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.
I'm back. If you have any questions about Greek or about ordering Greek instructional materials from Ezra Project,
contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be delighted to pursue a deeper understanding of the Greek New Testament
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.
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.
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
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!