Greek like Swinging a Bat — Personal Tips and Goals to Read Greek
During my entire adolescent years, baseball was my life. In high school, I vividly remember blisters forming on the middle part of my hand as I gripped the bat once more. The hitting tee was barely a foot and a half in front of me and my energy just drained. There was another time, my back locked up for a week because of how much time I spent in the batting cage. There was something in me that needed to perfect my swing, how I visualize the ball, the spin of the threads, and more. But even as I wanted to give up time and time again, I had my dad's voice echoing in my head:
It takes a 1,000 right swings to undo your bad habits
My good friend, Tavis, wrote a series of blogs on "Greek like a violin." In this, he used a metaphor of learning Greek much like learning how to master the violin. It takes time, practice, discipline, rote memorization, drills, inspiration, and performance to hone one's skill.
Tavis reflected on a conversation that he had with his Doktorvater about his greek reading. John Barclay asked Tavis, "Have you read the New Testament in Greek, yet?" I, like Tavis, let out a huge gulp as I continued to listen to his reflection.
Sure, the metaphor of learning the violin was good, but it was modifying this metaphor to my athletic background that penetrated my soul. Reading Greek is difficult— but for the NT student, it is a necessity. Reading Greek, for me, was much like swinging a bat in the batting cage.
Here are tips, that I use, that help me consistently read Greek:
- Read 10 minutes a day — I read 1–2 chapters and be okay with falling behind
- Follow Dan Wallace's easiest to most difficult NT reading schedule
- Read with a fellow colleague that has similar goals and drive—this creates a little internal competition. Mine is Brian Davidson and we regularly chat about grammar, reading habits, and observations—even via voxer.
- Set your researching schedule around your reading time — nothing can be started until I've read a single chapter.
- Ditch the interlinear
- Determine to know your Greek bible
Once you finish your New Testament, continue reading a single chapter a day. Then add 1–2 chapters from some of the following works. The goal is to enhance your Greek knowledge while slowly plodding through religious texts that are valuable to your field.
- Pseudepigrapha (If you can, add some of the Jewish figures found in Loeb, Josephus and Philo)
- Apostolic Fathers — this should only take 3–4 months
- The Apocryphal Gospels
- Later Church Fathers (begin with Whitacre and then selected readings from OUP Early Christian Texts)
I'll never forget my dad's coaching, "It takes a 1,000 right swings to undo your bad habits." It take time, effort, devotion, and commitment to read and learn.