About Biblical Greek (BG) is a blog and website whose purpose is to help me and my friends (and you, if you’re so inclined) learn biblical Greek. In addition to presenting BG lessons, this blog will also attempt to document our progress. By this I mean to say that no new lessons will be published until and unless I and my friends have thoroughly learned the existing lessons.
As it happens, BG will be my second biblical language. I am already fluent in Biblical Hebrew (BH) having studied (at Hebrew University (Tel Aviv) and elsewhere), taught, and translated BH and Hebrew Bible (and for the last 3 years at the University level) for over 15 years. From this experience, I have formed an opinion about the most efficient and effective way to learn a biblical language1. Specifically, one of the best, if not the best, means to learn BG is to follow the way infants learn their mother tongue. For example, infants do not learn their language by first learning the language’s grammar and spelling rules. They learn by hearing sounds and repeating them2. That’s the way I teach BH and it’s the way I’m teaching myself BG. The first phase will involve intensive and substantial exposure to the biblical text.
Should you care to follow along with us, note that vocabulary and grammar will not be introduced until we can read aloud any arbitrary New Testament text easily. Of course, we will not understand what we’re reading but that is by design. And, as I will continue to remind us, while understanding the language is our end goal is to read AND understand biblical Greek, our initial goal is to read the text fluidly.
Indeed, this approach is precisely effective and efficient because recognizing and correctly pronouncing the words are arguably the most important and necessary criteria developing fluency in biblical Greek.
Here are the steps we’ll take:
- Memorize the BG alphabet such that you can recite the alphabet both forward and backward and correctly recognize and pronounce its dipthongs3. I’m currently at this stage with a long way to go. It’s taking longer than I had anticipated because I’ve decided to accomplish two additional tasks: (1) learn to type using a biblical Greek keyboard and (2) set up this website4.
- Next, we need to learn how to convert Greek words into their constituent syllables.
- Only when we can read any arbitrary text comfortably without undue pause we will be able to move on to Phase II..
Now, here are the specifics about how steps #1-3 will be accomplished:
The lessons consist of recordings taken from For each listening exercise (I’m currently on the first one this one) do not read the English translation from your favorite Bible. Forget all about English translationa. It’ll just screw you up. Focus on the BG like a laser. Instead, complete these 4 steps, in order. Do not go to the next step until you’ve perfected your current step.
- Listen to the whole text at least 10 times (eight verses for the Mark exercise). No less. If, after 10 times you are unable to see each word (and anticipate the next), keep repeating this until you can.
- When you are very comfortable with #1, try speaking along with the speaker. This will probably be difficult. Don’t be discouraged, but do this 3 to 5 times, trying to keep up with the speaker. Now, move to the next step.
- Note that, in addition to the recording of the whole text, a recording exists for each individual verse. So, for each verse, listen as many times as necessary until you can speak along with the recording without difficulty. When you can close your eyes and recite the verse completely in sync with the speaker. You’re ready for the final step.
- Syllabilize each and every word in the text5. Here, for example, are the first four words of Matthew 1:1 broken into syllables.
Ἀρ·χὴ τοῦ εὐ·αγ·γε·λί·ου
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