Can you skip 1st year Greek and start with 2d year?

December 10, 2012

If you believe some marketing hype, that’s the way to go!

Before I make some observations of what I’ve just been reading, some matters of disclosure—so you know how many grains of salt to take with my jaundiced view! :)

1. I’m the author of a forthcoming first year Greek grammar that uses (my version of) the so-called “traditional methods.”

2. I’m also no fan of the software used and I have some strong (negative) opinions of that software. I’m also not a fan of building digital libraries tied to a particular piece of software. Certain reference tools and databases certainly do have a digital place, but not most personal libraries intended to support biblical studies. But that’s another subject!

3. I’m “deathly allergic” to what I often refer to as the “golden nuggets approach” to using the biblical languages. Telling people what individual pieces mean without a framework of knowing the language often results in irresponsible “exegesis.” Better that people not willing to learn Greek (or Hebrew) instead learn well how to do inductive Bible study from their English (or other native language) Bible using multiple translations.

4. I have not seen/used the software/video in question. [I am familiar with the base software through v. 4.] My comments here are based on what the PR material states. So take this as a brief review of the PR material, not a review of the videos or accompanying software. If that material is not accurate (which would be another problem altogether) or gives the wrong impression, some of my comments may be off target. You’ll surely be able to find many countering opinions on the web. I suspect that my view of such matters is a minority opinion. And no, I’m not going to accept any review copies in an attempt to sway my opinion. You may call that “head in the sand” if you like, but I don’t have 15+ hours (nor $500) to review the product itself. I do not write full reviews of books that I’ve not read and that would apply to software of this nature also.

Since this could too easily degenerate into a flame war, I’m not accepting comments to this post. The publisher has a prodigious, well-financed, lucrative PR machine, so they have no need to respond to a private blog here. They also offer a comment option on the main PR page (link below), so you can join the discussion there.

So what is it that’s stirred my ire? :) One of my Greek students emailed me today asking what I thought of this product. (So Aaron gets credit for my generating this post.) I don’t know how long it’s been available; it’s backordered presently, but one comment refers to someone having purchased it in 2010.

Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software

What’s their approach? 15 hours of video that:

  • Skips 1st year and starts with 2d year concepts
  • Skips the “stress” of the classroom
  • Doesn’t have you memorize vocabulary or forms

Misc. observations

The videos can’t be shown to a group/class unless everyone in the class already owns the product. (Then why take class time to show it?!) Makes for a nice income stream for the publisher if they can get students to shuck out $500 each (in addition to paying tuition!).

Presents a strawman portrait of “traditional” methods. Yes, there may be some classes that resemble this straw portrait, but certainly not all and hopefully not many. The deliberate depiction of traditional methods as based on rote memory is not representative of current textbooks. It’s not true of Bill Mounce’s books (and he currently represents, I think, about 60% of the US teaching market) and it certainly won’t be true of mine (an approach with similarities to Bill’s–but of course better! ;) ).

Sounds suspiciously like a golden nuggets approach since it claims to “go beyond” traditional methods by showing how the grammatical pieces [my term] such as “what kind of noun or verb … might translate into a sermon.” To speak of “what kind of noun or verb” is horribly sloppy terminology. Are we talking about declensions? Tenses? Cases? Liquids? etc. But none of these pieces should ever be “translated into a sermon”!

The 15 hours of video are said to be equivalent to “an entire college class.” But that would be one semester of a one credit hour class! If it includes both Greek and Hebrew, then divide by 2 for how much “class” you are getting for your Greek. And one of the comments on the publisher’s site says that the authors claim to produce the results of 3 years of seminary study! (Hopefully that is a woeful misunderstanding by the commenter! If not, it’s outright deceptive if that’s what the publisher claims.)

One commenter (who has used the product) is probably right when he observes that “While one will not learn Greek nor Hebrew through this course; it is helpful in teaching how to use the Logos language tools in practical application” (my emphasis).

So the question is, do you want to learn Greek (or Hebrew)? Or do you want to learn software?

‘Nuff said.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Can You Skip 1st year Greek? | The Blog of the Twelve - December 19, 2012

    [...] See Decker’s comments here [...]

  2. Keep ‘em coming back with the December Biblical Studies Carnival | Words on the Word - January 1, 2013

    [...] Decker wrote about understanding Greek and how to teach it. (Hint, via Decker: you can’t skip first year Greek.) Daniel Street suggested a Greek Students’ Liberation Movement when it comes to [...]