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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.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Trilingual Language Teaching

I've just returned from a unique experience:  teaching Greek in English to Japanese.

My daughter is serving as a missionary in a church in Sapporo, Japan and my wife and I just made our first visit to observe her in her natural habitat.  We volunteered to help in whatever way we could, and the pastor asked me to teach two sessions on Greek for their leadership training program.  Since I know virtually nothing about Japanese, I wasn't sure how this was going to work.  Most of my teaching starts from what a student knows in English, then uses that as a springboard for understanding Greek.

For the record, Japanese are very good at picking up Greek.  In the first session, they were able to pronounce Greek words written on the whiteboard, and they picked up the alphabet very quickly.  In our second session, we introduced the principles of Greek word study.  Once again, my translator was able to communicate the concepts very well, and the group responded very well.

Moving to the next stages, grammar and translation, might pose more problems, but I was very encouraged to discover that you can teach Greek even when you don't know their language.

By the way, I have looked for reference tools or Web sites that moved directly from Greek to Japanese but have come up dry so far.  If anyone knows of Japanese-Greek resources, please send me the information at info@ezraproject.com.  

2:44 pm est

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Someone Who Thinks Like Me

How do you decide which commentaries are most useful?  When your shelves are full and your wallet is empty, the question pushes to the forefront.  Some of the criteria are rather obvious:  look at their doctrinal bias, their level of scholarship, the level of complexity.  But I have to admit that I use one other criterion to judge commentaries, one that is seldom mentioned.  Does this writer think like me?

I know -- it sounds egocentric.  But it does matter to me.  Does this writer ask the same kinds of questions that intrigue me?  Is he impressed with the same sorts of evidence?  Can I follow his logic and trust his judgment?  

If the answer is Yes, then I've found a commentary that I can use with more ease than others, because I can concentrate on the biblical text, rather than constantly making allowances for differences in the author's viewpoint.

I first noticed that D. A. Carson was more than just the average scholar when I used some of his work in preparing a commentary on 1 John.  Again and again I found myself saying, "That's right!"  And before long, I was willing to trust his opinions even when they diverged from the way I had been viewing the verse.

Another writer who resonates with me is D. Edmond Hiebert, best known for his 3-volume introduction to the New Testament.  When I use his commentaries on the Thessalonian Epistles or the Gospel of Mark, it's remarkable how he covers all the issues in the text, without extraneous discourses on topics that don't illuminate the meaning.  I especially appreciate Mark: A Portrait of the Servant (Moody, 1974), ISBN 0-8024-5182-9.

I just discovered another author who handles Scripture in a way that answers my questions.  Though he writes for a more scholarly audience that Hiebert, Darrell Bock does a masterful job of navigating through the mass of material available on Luke and Acts.  I recently used his volume on Acts in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series (Baker, 2007), ISBN 0-8010-2668-7.  When I finished working through a section, I felt confident that he had worked through all the relevant scholarship and packaged the conclusions for me concisely and fairly.  And I once again found myself agreeing with his analysis of issues.  

Don't get me wrong -- I also need to hear from people who don't think like me.  They'll provide a fresh perspective.  And I might be wrong!

But it's nice to find a kindred spirit, and I'm grateful for these men of God who labor in the text of the New Testament.

10:07 am 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