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The Ezra Project 
For the Serious Starter in New Testament Greek

Welcome to the Ezra Project!  Whether you're gearing up to take a seminary Greek course or looking for ways to go deeper in your personal Bible study, this site is your personal resource.  Our goal is simple:  to help you take your first steps in New Testament Greek - and do it right!
    I have been introducing students to New Testament Greek since 1972, and it's my delight to take the mystery out of the language for men and women who want to become serious students of Scripture.
                             -- Dr. John Bechtle 

The Ezra Project:  First Stop for Greek Beginners.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Return to Life

Those of you who have visited Ezra Project in the last weeks have probably noticed that the blog page has been dormant for quite a while.

As you might expect, life demands and technical difficulties were the cause of this hiatus.  I had prostate cancer a year ago, and the treatment has been successful.  That seems to be a thing of the past.  But it was distracting!

Then I discovered that none of the three computers and three browsers that I tried could communicate with the software that allows me to post on the Web site.  Now I've finally discovered a combination that works.

So I'm back.  If you have any questions about Greek or about ordering Greek instructional materials from Ezra Project, contact me at info@ezraproject.com.  I would be delighted to pursue a deeper understanding of the Greek New Testament with you.

John Bechtle

1:49 pm est

No Calculators Allowed!

In the dim past when I was attending West High School in Phoenix, Arizona, every math class had one iron-clad rule:  No calculators allowed!  You were expected to do all your computations with your unaided brain and a pencil.  They even expected you to figure out the square root of 1563 on your own.  I didn't mind multiplying and dividing, but I never did figure out how to do a square root.

Math teachers were sure that you didn't really understand math unless you had it all ready for use, right there in your brain.

Now I understand that calculators are featured on the lists of "Things You Should Buy Your Kid When School Starts."  For better or worse, today's math classroom are based on the proposition that you should spend your time applying the principles of math to practical problems and higher processes.  Teachers want the kids to know when to add and why to subtract, and what you do with the figures once you punch them into the calculator (or iPad).

 I've undergone a similar Copernican Revolution in my thoughts about learning Greek.  When I took Greek from Aristotle's nephew, I had to memorize all the endings and master all the irregular verbs.  Vocabulary lists were mandatory.  You were supposed to squeeze the whole language into your skull.  Memorize, memorize!

When I started teaching Greek, I continued the tradition of insisting that my students work toward the goal of translating the New Testament using nothing but a standard Greek lexicon.  I tried to trim down the rote memory load -  that's the point of my workbook, Greek Behind the Prof's Back.  Focus your effort on the things that are hard to understand, then come back to beef up your vocabulary.  I was aiming toward the goal of helping students pick up their Greek Testament, look at a verse, and recognize what was going on.  

I still think that's the ideal  What could be better than having the freedom to read 1 Corinthians like the Corinthians did.

But in the last few years, I've noticed that there are many eager students who want to be able to use Greek in their study, but who just don't have the time or ability to cram the whole language into their memory.  If I were starting today to learn Greek, it would be a much more agonizing task because I'm lots older and I memorize much more slowly.  Many adult learners are squeezing their education into the cracks between work, family and church -- and that leaves them with so little time that it could take years to master Greek!

As a result, I am cautiously toying with the idea that the age of calculators has come.  Not for the person who wants to teach the Bible as a professional educator, but for the many people who want to go deep in the Word, who want to teach a Bible study or lead small group discussions.  For that person, I have decided that it's time to take advantage of some of the Web sites and Bible study software that has become available in the last few years.

If you know where to go, you can click two or three times and find out which word for "love" Paul is using in the Galatians 5:22 list of the "fruit of the Spirit."  If you're studying Romans 12:1 and you want to know whether the instruction to "present" your body to God is in the aorist tense, you can simply look it up on a Web site.

Doing it electronically takes quite a bit longer than having the information in your head, because the brain is still the most efficient of all computers.  But you can still find out the information you need.

From time to time, I plan to post some specific instructions on how to use some of the Web sites and apps that I particularly like.  Right now, I use "Blue Letter Bible" (blueletterbible.org), especially their app, which is available for iPhone.  If I want to check a slightly more complex site that packs more information on a single screen, I use "Great Treasures" (greattreasures.org).  I love the fact that these are free.  You can get more powerful programs, but you'll have to budget for them.

One caution:  Using a Web site to find information about the Greek text is an easy way to pile u8p a huge mound of raw facts.  But all that info won't do you any good unless you know what to do with it.  That's why it is important to take the extra time to learn how to understand some of the main points of Greek noun cases and verb tenses.

You will find summaries of the broad outlines of Greek grammar on this Web site, and there are many other locations where you can learn how to process all the raw information that comes from this wealth of data.

So, for what it's worth, you have my official permission to use the calculator!

1:41 pm est

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Multilevel Greek - How deep do you want to go?

When people say they want to study New Testament Greek, they don't all have the same picture in mind.  You can investigate Greek at several levels.  Some are relatively simple; others require a larger investment of time and effort.  Here are the most common choices:

Level 1 – Exploring Word Meanings

           Goal:  To understand the meaning of a Greek word.

Guidelines for Word Study" - Basic steps in Greek word study

              "Word Study Resources" - Links to online word study tools [in development]

Level 2 – Understanding Grammar Concepts

          Goal:  To learn how Greek grammar works, so you know what aorist or subjunctive really means.

Grammar Basics" – an overview of Greek grammar

   "Glossary of Grammar Terms" [in development]

Level 3 – Translating the Greek Text 

         Goal:  To sit down with a Greek New Testament and lexicon and translate a New Testament verse for yourself

Greek Behind the Prof’s Back – a self-instructional workbook

Level 4+ - Mastery and Beyond                   
You can continue to grow in your grasp of Greek for the rest of your life, going deeper and deeper into the Word of God.  Once you have mastered the basic content of the language, you can delve into the endless list of books and electronic resources available to you.  The Ezra Project provides you with a launching pad for a lifetime of study.


When you decide to dig a little deeper into the meaning of a Bible word, you should know that there are:

        Two facts about words

        Two stages to word study

        Two methods for doing each stage

Two facts about words

First, words have more than one meaning.  Take a simple English word such as run.  It can be a verb that means "to get from one place to another by moving your legs quickly."  Or it can mean "to keep the engine of your car operating" (even if it's just idling in the driveway).  When your watch runs, the hands go around.  When the lawnmower runs, it cuts grass.  When a stream runs, water flows over rocks.  When your nose runs, you grab a tissue.  Run can also be a noun, whether it refers to a point scored in a baseball game or a torn place in a stocking. 


Please get in touch to offer comments and ask questions about New Testament Greek!  You can e-mail us at:

Ezra Project * 9825 River Oak Lane N * Fishers * IN * 46038