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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, August 24, 2010

Why Not Skip Greek?

A friend recently sent me a 1998 article by Dr. Paige Patterson, who was serving as president of Southeastern Baptist Seminary. The title alone should have caught the attention of the academics in the crowd:  "What Athens Has to Do with Jerusalem: How to Tighten Greek and Hebrew Requirements and Triple Your M.Div. Enrollment at the Same Time."

Patterson, above all, is a preacher, and it was fun to read his article.  Embedded in it were some good quotes about the importance of studying Greek.  Here is a cluster from A.T. Robertson, the dominant Greek scholar of the mid-20th century:

"It ought to be taken for granted that the preacher has his Greek Testament.  This statement will be challenged by many who excuse themselves from making any effort to know the Greek New Testament.  I do not say that every preacher should become an expert in his knowledge of the New Testament Greek.  This cannot be expected.  I do not affirm that no preacher should be allowed to preach who does not possess some knowledge of the original New Testament.  I am opposed to such a restriction.  But a little is a big percent over nothing, as John A. Broadus used to say.  This is preeminently true of the Greek New Testament.  There is no sphere of knowledge where one is repaid more quickly for all the toil expended [A. T. Robertson, The Minister and His Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1977), p. 15]

"The freshness of the strawberry cannot be preserved in any extract [Ibid., p. 17].

"One needs to read these translations, the more the better.  Each will supplement the others.  But, when he has read them all, there will remain a large and rich unstranslatable element that the preacher ought to know" [Ibid., p. 19]

The complete text of Patterson's article is available here.

10:58 am est

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hebrew vs. Greek?

Sometimes a student will ask, "Which is easier to learn:  Hebrew or Greek?"

I'd like to suggest some comparisons, and I would welcome comments from anyone else who has thoughts on the subject.

Greek has the advantage of an alphabet that largely corresponds to the English alphabet.  Four of the first five letters (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon) match the opening letters of our alphabet. And some of the Greek letters (especially capitals) are written like the English equivalent.  The Hebrew alphabet, on the other hand, is not as similar.  Yes, there are some letters that appear in approximately the same spot as similar letters of the English alphabet, but the percentage is much lower.  And the letters themselves look nothing like English letters.

In other words, the Greek alphabet is easier to learn than the Hebrew alphabet.

Hebrew, on the other hand, has a much simpler grammar structure.  Not as many tenses, not as many noun endings, not as many prepositions.  Greek uses a whole web of words to show how the thoughts are connected, while Hebrew chooses not to spell out the relationships in so much detail.  

In other words, Hebrew grammar is not as detailed as Greek grammar.  Once you get back the exotic-looking Hebrew alphabet, you can become familiar with the basic structure of the grammar fairly quickly.  In most Hebrew grammar books, a surprisingly large percentage of the text simply deals with irregular verbs.  The underlying grammar categories might only comprise half the book.

Do you have anything to add to this discussion?  Send your insights to info@ezraproject.com and I'll add them to the blog.


2:10 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:

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