Not everyone who wants to dig into Greek enjoys the privilege of having a teacher. And even if you have one, you may find yourself struggling to retrieve certain Greek skills from your brain’s cluttered archives during a three-semester gap between classes.
Whether you’re trying to remember Greek lessons from the past, or you’ve never set foot in a Greek classroom, Logos has some tools that can help you. Let one of my fellow Logos Pros whet your appetite in this quick video, and then stick around—I’ll explain a few more things that might be helpful:
Learning Biblical Greek with Logos
Use Your Ears
One of the most important things I can say to beginning Greek students (and sometimes to advanced ones) is something that seems obvious at first glance: Koine Greek was a normal human language, not a set of precise linguistico-algebraic equations. Many students assume that interpretation is a simple matter of plugging in vocabulary glosses and “running the numbers”—finding out which participle governs which others, which genitive uses are at play, and what meaning δία (dia) takes while modifying an accusative. They forget that good interpretation weighs various factors; it doesn’t just count them.
That’s why Logos’ audio pronunciations are so helpful. As you study Greek in Logos, you’ll notice a little audio icon next to Greek words in multiple places. There it is next to every verb in your word list from 1 John. There it is again in the alphabet tutor. There’s even a whole pronunciation tool providing audio clips for Greek (Hebrew and Aramaic are available separately). These little clips remind you every time you click them, “This was a real word in a real language used by actual people.”
Why is that important? Because your whole goal in learning Greek is to understand what real people like Peter and Paul meant when they used the language. Interpretation is an art as well as a science, and it’s my professional opinion (and, if that isn’t enough, Moisés Silva’s) that too much biblical interpretation forgets the art part and treats the Bible like a math book. I refer you to a fantastic Silva book if you want to better understand what I’m saying. And here’s another, more introductory one for good measure.
There’s another reason pronunciation is a help while learning: humans were designed to learn languages using aural skills: listening, not just reading. When I was a new Spanish student, I spent many hours listening to little clips of an educated South-American woman pronouncing perro and idioma and cincuenta and a lot of other words I still know 20 years later. That aural experience helped me make the mental jump from viewing Spanish as a linguistic puzzle to experiencing it as a living language. What if something like that were to happen to your Greek?
Audio clips are great, but they won’t do the memorizing work for you. The open secret to memorizing Greek vocab is, of course, repetition. But there’s smart repetition and there’s vain repetition. Whether you’re learning Greek or brushing up on it, you need to find the kind of repetition that fits your learning style.
Logos can automatically generate vocab cards from any list of Greek words you give it. So if you, like many beginning Greek students, are reading through 1 John, you can export all the verbs or all the nouns, or any selection of words you can come up with in a search. You can even get our Flashcards app for Android or iOS; it grabs Word Lists you’ve created from the desktop app and helps you structure your study.
Bible software is changing the way people learn Greek and Hebrew. This doesn’t mean teachers are unnecessary; it only means that you ought to give some thought to the ways it can help you.
This post focused on Logos features, not books, but of course there are multiple resources available in Logos for learning Greek:
- I think it’s especially important to learn Greek from someone who knows linguistics in general: David Alan Black’s Learning to Read New Testament Greek fits the bill. (And see Black’s Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek.)
- Bill Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek is one of the most commonly used Greek grammar textbooks in colleges and seminaries. Bill helped translate the ESV and NIV Bibles.
- Faithlife’s own Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew is one of our most popular products. This course teaches you principles of biblical Hebrew and Greek while teaching you how to use Logos Bible Software.