Learning Greek & Latin

Christopher Thomas Greek Language Leave a Comment

Pastor Pooyan Mehrshahi asked me to put together a post with resources to help seminary students learn Greek. So here is what I used and am using.

When it comes to learning Greek, one needs to learn it as a living language and not as some dead language in either Aristotle or The Gospel of John (when spoke with that horrible Erasmian pronunciation). But I also believe that all seminarians must learn its sister language, Latin. So I’ll approach this by providing a list of resources for Greek & Latin and how you should use them.

MODERN GREEK

First, go through the Language Transfer Greek Audio course. They even have an app now. There are 120 audios. You should have no issues completing 36 audios a week as they’re very short lessons. So once every 3 and a half weeks you should complete the course. The first three times through you will do no writing. Towards the end of your third time, listen to this or a similar YouTube video: Greek Alphabet Song. After your third run through, or SET 1, you will go through them again but in a different way.

For SET 2 you will need to read about the Dowling Method. This is the backbone of how you will learn not only Attic Greek, but you will also use this to learn Latin and Hebrew. How will you use this method? Simple.

  1. Go through each word in each chapter and classify them as one of the following: Numbers, Articles, Pronouns, 1st, 2nd, & 3rd declensions, Adjectives, Participles, Verbs (regular and irregular forms). Google translate will classify them for you. You can put each grammatical type (Numbers, Articles, etc.) in a spreadsheet.
  2. Memorize all of the following: Numbers, Articles, Pronouns, 1st, 2nd, & 3rd declensions, Adjectives, Participles, Verbs (regular and irregular forms) in the following manner. Write out a given paradigm (Numbers, Articles, etc.) by hand WHILE at the same time pronouncing the words aloud until you can recite the whole page from memory.
  3. Repeat each paradigm aloud correctly 100-200 times. 100% accuracy is a correct repetition.
  4. Your goal is to properly classify each word in the LT Greek audio course as a number, article, pronoun, etc., know how it changes (its paradigm), and be able to write and speak the entire course from memory. It may take 4 to 6 SETS to accomplish this.

You now have a firm grasp of the forms, spelling, and pronunciation of modern Greek as taught in the Language Transfer Course. But why learn modern Greek first? Watch this video before moving onto Attic Greek.

Attic Greek

But why learn Attic Greek over just Koine Greek? In much the same way that Modern Greek is an easier version of Koine Greek, so Koine Greek can be considered an easier version of Attic Greek. And our reason for learning Greek isn’t to be able to recognize grammatical forms and sound silly using the Erasmian pronunciation. The purpose is mastery of Classical Greek. We began with Modern Greek so that we could speak and think in Greek and treat it as a living language. Now for Attic Greek we will follow a similar process to what we began above.

Tools

  1. Athenaze Video Playlist
  2. Athenaze Book 1 & Athenaze Book 2
  3. Ariadne: Resources for Athenaze
  4. Athenaze Greek Exercises
  5. This is a MUST BUY: Ancient Greek by the Ranieri-Dowling Method
  6. Use helps: ANKI system, ANKI Tutorial, and there are a lot of useful helps at the Fluent-Forever.com website.
  7. Free Ancient Greek Pronunciation Guide
  8. Lucian Pronunciation of Ancient Greek · ἡ Λουκιανὴ Προφορά

METHOD

This copied from the Ranieri-Downland Greek kit that you must buy. You could create it yourself, but why do the extra work?

Here are the stages I recommend:

Stage 1) Understand the general idea of the grammatical cases and tenses of Ancient Greek. (This is the same as the standard Dowling Method.)

Stage 2) Memorize all the regular and most important irregular grammatical paradigms of inflected nouns, adjectives, and verbs in the following manner:

  a. Write out a given paradigm by hand while pronouncing the words aloud, so that you can look away from the page and recite the whole paradigm from memory (the paradigm is now in short-term memory); then:

  b. Repeat the paradigm aloud to yourself, marking each correct repetition on a scorecard to keep track, at least 100 times.

  c. Utilize the attached audio recordings to teach and prompt you to recall the inflected forms.

Stage 3) Utilize a graduated reader such as the Athenaze series, but while reading, listen to each chapter with the audio recordings I made at this playlist on YouTube, which emphasize historically accurate pronunciation, particularly long/short vowel contrasts and syllable quantity and pitch accent; being able to recite Ancient Greek in this manner is a necessary skill to appreciate poetic meter and ancient song, as well as prose rhythm. (At the time of this writing, these videos are not yet complete for the entire book; but please subscribe to the channel and be on the look out for new videos in the series!)  You should also use the Alexander Arguelles “Shadowing” technique:

  a. Listen to a chapter (or indeed the entire book!) while “Blind Shadowing” the audio: repeating every word you hear as you hear it without pausing the recording, mimicking intonation and pronunciation as precisely as you can.

  b. Then later, shadow the text as you hear and read it at the same time in my YouTube videos — read aloud along with me at my pace without pausing the recording.

Stage 4) Transcribe each chapter of Athenaze as you work through it, whether by hand or by typing. While transcribing, the auditory and spoken component is essential:

  a. As you listen to my recording of a given chapter, hold as long a phrase as you can in your short-term memory; then pause the audio playback; say that phrase aloud to confirm you remember it; finally, write that phrase down. You may write by hand or by typing.

  b. Accomplish the exercises that accompany each chapter.

And this is what I call the Ranieri-Dowling Method. It could be employed in part or in toto, and it may work for some people and not for others. I personally vouch for its effectiveness, and I hope you can soon boast the same.

While using the Athenaze series you will be exposed to passages from the Greek New Testament. As you finish book 1 you should use the following links to read along with the TBS Textus Receptus:

  1. Textus Receptus audio
  2. Greek Audio Bible 1894 – Scrivener’s Textus Receptus (1894)

To make your reading profitable, any word you do not know you should add under it’s proper grammatical form (Numbers, Articles, Pronouns, 1st, 2nd, & 3rd declensions, Adjectives, Participles, Verbs) and follow the Dowling method until you have it memorized. The University of Texas at Austin’s Linguistics Research Center will provide extra Koine Greek Grammar information as you progress through your New Testament Reading. After completing this method it is suggested that you begin reading Classical Greek works from the Loeb Classica Library with a focus on the Historians.

LATIN

For Latin you will use the Lingua Latin Per Se Illustrata Books 1 & 2 along with the College Companion. And don’t forget to buy the Ranieri-Dowling method kit for Latin. After completing the same process for Latin, you will want to begin reading the texts at the Latin Library and use the playlists at ScorpioMartianus YouTube Page.

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