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Reading the Greek New Testament in 2016

I’ve been pondering for the past few days about how I might incorporate the Greek New Testament into my Bible reading next year. Part of me thought that next year’s probably too soon, given that I’ve only had one semester of Greek (albeit, it was an exegesis course since I taught myself beginning Greek and tested out of it). The reason why I wanted to systematically read through the GNT next year and not wait until my Greek is better is because the overwhelming constant piece of advice I’ve gotten from my Greek Geek friends (as early as when I was soliciting final studying advice a few weeks before I took the Greek placement exam to try to test into exegesis) is to read the GNT. The rationale seems to be that even if you don’t understand it and even if it’s beyond your current abilities, keep reading the GNT because it over time it will give you an innate sense for how Koine Greek works, in a way that complements your atomistic translation/exegetical work.

So, how am I going to go about it, as a Koine Greek baby? Well, while there are many appealing elements to Wallace’s suggestion, at this point translating three chapters of the GNT a day (albeit with only one new chapter a day) seems a bit unrealistic – I feel like it would take me hours. But for those of you who’ve been at this for a few years, I highly recommend taking a look at Wallace’s plan (although, interestingly to me,  he suggests the plan primarily for those coming out of first year Greek and says that it may also be helpful for more advanced students). I’ve clipped it for the future (maybe I’ll do it in 2017!) because translating each chapter three days in a row seems like a fantastic way to really get to know the Greek text.

So, while I’m not going to use Wallace’s plan this year, I am going to use his ordering (roughly from easiest to hardest). Then I had to decide whether to try to read the GNT in one year or two, and I ended up deciding to read it in one because the whole point is to read larger chunks of text. That means 22 verses a day. So the way I’m going to read the Bible in 2016 is to read 3 OT  chapters (in English) and roughly 22 GNT verses per day (I say roughly because I don’t like stopping in the middle of main ideas, so I will probably follow the paragraph breaks). For the Greek part I anticipate reading each text a few times, the first time straight through, the second time roughly translating in my mind, and if time permits, one more time looking up words as necessary and analyzing what’s going on syntactically. But the main point is to just read the text. I also plan to finish my time by reading the text in English.

Of course, the main difficulty with doing a mishmash plan like this is keeping track of progress, especially if you miss a day. At this point I don’t think it would be worth the time to create an actual one-year Bible reading record, but I might do it if I feel like this is a plan I would follow many years over. If I do end up making one I will share it here for others who might want to try it. For now I will probably just find a one-year Bible reading plan that only has you reading from one place in the OT and one place in the NT daily; I’ll have to hop around to keep track for the NT because I want to go in order of increasing difficulty, but it shouldn’t be too annoying.

For those who are reading through the GNT next year or have done it in the past, I would love to know how you’re doing it or what you’ve done in the past that’s worked well. Since I’m a newbie I’m eager to learn from those more seasoned!

 

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23 Comments

  1. The iPhone app “Reading Plan” is an excellent one for tracking progress, and has some pre-loaded plans you can use.

    Also, I like Wallace’s outline, but “translating” still feels to me a little bit like suggesting Greek is a code to be deciphered. I appreciate the idea of just *reading* through the Greek text, not worrying about writing anything out.

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  2. I want to read the whole GNT this year. 22 verses a day makes sense, especially if you go to the next paragraph break every time. This allows for missing days by accident.

    One thing that you shouldn’t do, that I’ve tried, is writing out a translation for each chapter. You end up getting stuck on syntax, variants, and lexicography. Whatever you do, unless you’re not working, do not try writing out your translation. Based on your blog, you’re literally too much of a nerd to do it quickly.

    Anyway, good plan. Also, take a tablet to church w/LXX and GNT to follow along w/readings that way.

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    • Glad to hear you’re doing this too, Geoff! Yeah, I’m not planning to do any “real” translation/exegesis because I’m still taking exegesis classes so I will be working on texts that way about every other day. The reading is really just to read, but of course I do need to also figure out the basic meaning of what I’m reading 🙂

      Haha, one can’t be too much of a nerd 🙂

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      • Well, I suspect you’ll have a lot of fun. Some days it isn’t fun. You know how discipline works. My Army friends used to say, “Embrace the suck.” So on the says when it feels like you’re being sucked into the mud of time and energy spent on something so big, realize that it’s part of the process of being able to read, exegete, and explain the inspired witness to the gospel of Jesus. Having that long term big, but specific vision is helpful.

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  3. When I first started teaching college-level Greek, I bought large size a NA 26 with every other page blank. I read through the GNT, making notes on vocab I did not know, looking up forms I did not recognize, etc. I also memorized vocab from Trenchard down to seven times (at that level the returns for memorizing were so small I stopped flipping the cards…) That took me most of an academic year to finish, then I re-started the next year using only that Bible. On the third time through I only got through Acts because my teaching load increased.

    I will say that I did not really feel comfortable in the GNT until I had read through it those two and a half times while teaching through an intro to Greek, a readings course and an exegesis course. If you do not read Greek and Hebrew every day, you cannot really expect to master the languages.

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    • That GNT with every other page blank sounds fantastic! I’ll have to invest in one in a few years and do the Phil Long plan 🙂

      What you wrote at the end is really encouraging; I was pretty distraught all of last semester because I felt like I didn’t know Greek at all. So many people talk about the “fog” in beginning Greek but no one mentioned it for intermediate so I thought something was wrong with me. But there is a second fog second year, right? It can’t be just me…

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  4. Jennifer, that is quite an ambitious and admirable plan! For your sanity’s sake I hope you are using a GNT with running vocabulary at the bottom. I tried to do the Wallace plan as well, but by now I’ve accepted that it will be sporadic, on-again, off-again progress. My hope is that by the time I finish my MA (2018) I will have it all done. Best luck as you begin your hopefully more disciplined journey through the GNT!

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    • Also, tomorrow I will be posting a book review for the Carnival — I’ll send you the link.

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    • I don’t have a reader’s GNT, but I’m not too worried about it and would rather not spend the money on one since I have Logos and I can look up words and parsings that way. I am, however, ecstatic about a reader coming out soon by Lee Irons that actually a syntax guide….to my knowledge nothing like this exists in one volume for the whole NT! http://amzn.to/1ZCLwUx

      Yeah, I’m really shocked that Wallace recommends that plan for those coming out of first year Greek! Thanks for your kind words. Let’s see if I make it! I have a downfall of always thinking I can do more than I actually can, haha.

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      • I think it helps that he starts you off with the easiest stuff. Actually I started with 2 John and 3 John just for the confidence boost of reading a really short book and completing it. However I had 3 years of classical Greek (very little Koine) before starting the plan. I don’t think after one year I would have been able to get far.

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  5. I want to hear what you end up doing, as it will probably be something close to what I’ll end up doing!

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  6. Jennifer, I am actually on my sixth year of reading through the GNT, and it is a discipline that has paid many, many dividends. I’d recommend using the plan you can find here: http://www.dennyburk.com/Stuff/ReadGreekNT.pdf

    I will tell you that, after only one semester of Greek, you are likely to get discouraged early on. Allow me to be your cheerleader here: PERSEVERE!! What seems impossible the first year is much easier by the third. Verb forms that were unidentifiable in your first and second year won’t even make you pause in your fifth and sixth.

    This is well worth the effort!

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    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for commenting! I had seen Denny Burke blog about his plan, but I didn’t check out his PDF because his plan as a Greek prof didn’t seem fitting for me as a Greek newbie. Since January 1 I have been reading almost exactly as I wrote about in this post – twenty-odd verses a day, following Wallace’s ordering of ascending difficulty. The only slight tweak I made was that I’m reading around 25 verses a day because that would enable be to finish in 313 days – in other words, I decided to build in one off day a week for catch up if I get behind.

      Would you say, like I was surmising in the post, that at the second year level it’s ok to just read straight through even if you don’t recognize certain words/forms? Or should I be translating? I thought that since I’m translating and exegeting in class, reading straight through would complement that…that my reading should just be reading, for the sake of taking in more text and developing an innate sense for the language. If you have thoughts about this I’d love to know!

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      • The only way to get really good at reading any language is to sped a lot of time in the text. My own practice has been to spend time reading (whether it’s Greek or Hebrew) that is separate from my time working on translation.

        As far as reading straight through without worrying about recognizing certain words or forms: absolutely! Burk’s plan was really just a modified version of the plan Lee Irons recommends, and once upon a time, he had some great PDFs on his website that helped with identification, etc. All of that was taken down a couple of years ago, I imagine because he had that Kregel volume coming out. If you’re not planning on buying it, that would be a mistake.

        So, in summary, yes—read for the sake of reading. Your familiarity with the text will skyrocket, and it will pay unexpected dividends in other areas (exegesis, etc.).

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        • Thanks Mike, that’s the main thing I wanted to hear from people on in regards to this post (the matter of reading). I did see Irons’s plan. I had seen many of the well-known ones before deciding that as a newbie I wanted to do it slightly different, so I’m just doing it my own way. And of course I know about Irons’s syntax guide and am planning on getting it 🙂 He said that it has about 50% more content than what was on his website, I think. I’m really excited about it and have told quite a few people here at TEDS about it.

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  1. Looking Forward to the Future: Goals for 2016 | Pursuing Veritas

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