Late nights. All-nighters, even. Countless hours of review. Headaches. Anxiety. Confusion. Pesky, little flashcards… And we could go on concerning tedious realities facing the student striving toward an understanding of a language that is thousands of years old.
Greek. Koine Greek.
For those who have had 1 semester or several years of Greek coursework, at some point one leaves the focused intensity of the classroom and enters the “real world” of vocational ministry where additional responsibilities abound. No matter what the increasing demands of life are specifically, as one’s focus is stretched beyond the responsibilities and regularity of a degree program, the retention of one’s knowledge of Greek can suffer. With all that goes into learning the language, there have to be some realistic, practical steps that one can take to ensure the investment will not be lost.
Constantine R. Campbell (PhD, Macquarie University), senior lecturer in Greek and New Testament at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, has provided a welcomed resource for those who hope to retain (or regain) the benefits of their language study. Keep Your Greek: Strategies for Busy People is a brief, modest book (90 pages) designed to practically assist former Greek students in the task of preserving and/or reviving their knowledge of biblical Greek.
Keep Your Greek creatively utilizes a series of Campbell’s blog posts (with updated material) to provide the student/reader with 10 practical steps/examples that serve to prevent the loss of what he or she learned in school/seminary, thus allowing the reader the continued joy and benefits of knowing the New Testament’s original language.
Additionally, at the conclusion of each section, Campbell has included the original comments from his blog. The comments provide both helpful questions and some comic relief along the way; this gives the pursuit of discipline within the pursuit of preserving one’s Greek a bit of personality.
Campbell helpfully points out the prevalent places where students of Greek would be tempted to “cut corners” in their Greek review. Short cuts taken through the use of interlinears, Bible software, and giving up too easily when reviewing vocab can serve to weaken one’s ability to retain a confident knowledge of the language.
Along with tips regular reading, parsing, and vocabulary review, Campbell includes a helpful chapter for those who feel that they’ve lost a good majority of what they learned. Myself having had two semesters of Greek in my undergraduate studies am in this boat. I have the ability to recognize words and interact with commentaries, but my reading and grammar are practically gone. So what’s Campbell’s advice to someone like me?
- TAKE HEART! It will come more quickly than it did the first time.
- IT’S A BIT LIKE MUSCLE TRAINING. It’s shocking and hurts at first, but with perseverance the progress will come…and it will be worth the effort!
- KEEP IT REAL. Be honest about strengths and weaknesses. Address them. And be regular and consistent in your pursuit.
Campbell then finishes his book by giving the reader the inside to his “pattern” of keeping his languages fresh!
Overall, Campbell’s little book is a great resource for anyone desiring to develop a plan to keep his or her Greek…or, get it back! Its brevity is largely helpful, in that one of the biggest excuses for losing the language is lack of time. It takes barely any time at all to benefit from the practical insight Campbell has to offer. And all along the way, Campbell maintains the encouraging tone of a coach…he’s your biggest fan, but won’t let you cut corners; and it’s for the reader’s good!
I highly recommend Keep Your Greek!
RECOMMENDED AND RELATED RESOURCES
A majority of the links below are cited by Campbell at the conclusion of his book.
Institute of Biblical Greek – a variety of learning aids
Teknia Software – Dr. Mounce’s drilling software and more…
Resouces for Biblical Studies – Multimedia Flashcards and more…
Forget the Channel – Principal parts tester and more…
VOCABULARY TRAINING SOFTWARE
Paradigmatic – Trains Hebrew and Greek paradigms
ProVoc – Vocabulary training tool
iVocabulary – iPhone vocab app which utilizes ProVoc databases
Basics of Biblical Greek: Grammar by William D. Mounce
Basics of Biblical Greek: Workbook by William D. Mounce
Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek by Constantine R. Campbell
A Reader’s Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. by Richard J. Goodrich & Albert L. Lukaszewski
A Summer Greek Reader by Richard Goodrich & David Diewert
The Basics of New Testament Syntax by Daniel B. Wallace
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, at no charge, for the purposes of review. A positive review was not required.