Article in the new edition of Themelios:
The Profit of Employing the Biblical Languages: Scriptural and Historic Reflections. by Jason DeRouchie
Keep Your Greek is like Mark 8 – it lays out the struggle ahead, doesn’t offer any easy solutions, but spurs us along the way.
Keep Your Greek is the only book on Greek which includes smileys (pp37 and 74)! That should give you a good idea of how the book goes.
Keep Your Greek is like a “Drink Aware” campaign. Former Greek students are now hooked on a binge routine of parsing guides and lexicons. This book helps us redress a correct balance.
Who knew that learning Greek was like music (p14), gym exercise (pp20-21), reading a newspaper (pp56-57) and a host of other activities!?
Con Campbell writes practically, helpfully and friendlyly seeking to help all and any Greek students keep their Greek in reasonable and useful shape. This is not a book you should read if you think looking up words in Strongs’ is the same as reading Greek!
Based on his original blog posts (here) there are nine chapters of tips, techniques and advice as well as one “pattern” laid out in ch10.
- The most basic and most fundamental advice Con gives is to read Greek regularly. More than anything else, reading Greek will help you keep your Greek. “[there is] no substitute for reading Greek, and for busy people who can only afford to do one thing related to Greek each day, it must be this” (p15 emphasis original).
- Don’t be lazy. Don’t let your interlinear do the work for you. Having translation and parsing right next to the Greek text is too great a temptation for most people to face. And giving into these temptations will not help your Greek – it will cripple it! “An interlinear helps you to avoid pain, just like cheating in a gym” (p21)
- Just like an interlinear, allowing Bibleworks, Logos, Accordance or similar to parse all the words for you, and to show you lexicon entries is cheating. Don’t do it. Use these tools wisely! “…if you can’t be trusted not to cheat, then close your laptop and get out a paper Greek New Testament…” (p30).
- Learn vocab. Again – don’t be lazy. If you want to use Greek effectively, then you need to know more than 50 words. Make time and exert effort in learning vocabulary and make it stick in your head. “The hardest thing to master in Greek…is the vocabulary. Learn the vocab and you’ll be able to read Greek” (p37).
- Once you’ve learnt some vocab, you need to know how those words are working – so you need to know your grammar, which is best learnt in summary paradigms. “The Greek verb table is big, but it’s not infinite” (p50).
- Practice reading fast. Learn to skim read Greek so you can get the jist of a passage without needed to read, look up and parse every single word. You can do it with English, so learn to do it with Greek too. “…reading quickly helps you to think about Greek as a tool for the communication of connected ideas, not just isolated words…” (pp57-58).
- As well as reading fast, you need to read slow and pay careful attention to every single verb, noun, adjective, adverb, conjunction, punctuation mark etc. “When you read Greek slowly, make sure you read it really slow” (p64 emphasis original).
- Since Greek is a language it can be spoken as well as read. Make use of as many senses as possible in learning Greek. See, hear, touch, smell and taste Greek? “Your senses are powerful tools for learning and retaining Greek” (p68).
- Learn from your mistakes. If you’ve learnt Greek before and then let it slip; you’ll know how frustrating it is to think, “I used to know that word!!”. So don’t let that happen. Reverse the backslide. “Reverse the decline and your Greek will shine” (p74).
Finally, one of the best things about this book: it applies to Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and any other language!! Con himself, in ch10, outlines the method he uses not just for Greek, but a multitude of other languages.