So What’s the Main Issue? Part II

Previously, we introduced what seems to be the main issue for Daniel & Tonya:

The Sustainability of Communicative Methodology.

In our first post, we argued two points.

  1. Traditional Methodology post-seminary (or college/university) is not sustainable already so questioning the sustainability of Communicative Methods is a non-issue.
  2. In terms of within the classroom, Communicative Methodology is actually more sustainable because more students actually stay in the class.

I want to grab hold of point #2 for a moment. The very fact that Communicative Methods are more sustainable within the class, I would argue makes it more likely for them to be sustained outside the class for the very reason that there are more students learning the language.

Okay, I’ve not got that out of my system. Moving on.

This post is going to focus on the question/challenge of post-classroom sustainability for studying Greek. Let’s first look at the issue for traditional methodology first.

As I said previously, we can all admit that the majority of pastors do not sustain their language training, at least not to a level that would be considered sufficient in the eyes of their teachers.

But the few that do maintain their skills. What do they do? Well, most of their work is done by relying on memorization, paradigms, and lexicons. The vast majority of the time, its a whole lot of repetition. And those are the ones who make it. They put in a good chunk of time sustaining their Greek. The others, well, they remember something about the aorist and talk in their sermons about the active voice as if it means something about action. Sigh…I still need to talk to that particular pastor.

What about sustainability for communicative methodology?

Well, at the present time, we really cannot say much at all about it. We simply don’t know. We just know the traditional methods don’t create sustainability.

But at the same time, communicative methodology does give us something, something that D&T touched on, accepted as true, and then passed by.


D&T agreed with Seumas that it was a very good point that communicative methods internalize the language. And they questioned me for not mentioning that fact when I brought up the same point (why mention it when they don’t consider it necessary anyway?). Here’s the comment again:

We’ve not ignored the benefit of communicative methods as relates to internalization. Actually, we acknowledged it at the end of “Conversing with Seumas 3″. But it seems you have ignored our point after agreeing with it.

If, as you agree, ministers don’t need conversational Koine in their ministry, then they also have no need to internalize it. I’ve never run across the pastor whose needed to be able to speak the Greek that Paul uses. They all need to be able to interpret it and, we would add, be able to translate it for their congregations. To accomplish this, one need not internalize any conversational Koine.

Of course it’ll help if you do. But that’s not the point. The point is that its not necessary. And with the burden of time many students who are ministers face, time is better spent only on necessary things.

The basic argument here, I think, is something like this:

  1. Communicative Methods are helpful for internalizing the language.
  2. Internalization is only necessary if you plan on actually conversing in the language.
  3. Pastors don’t need to converse in Ancient Greek.
  4. Internalization is not necessary for Ancient Greek.

D&T and I both agree on point #1 there. Such methods are helpful for internalizing the language. We also agree on point #3 (well, mostly). Pastors probably don’t need to converse in Ancient Greek.

But its points #2 & #4 that I cannot and will not accept.

In fact I consider them baseless.

If a person has internalized the language and vocabulary and then also learned to read in said language. They will be able to consistently sustain that language to a reasonably acceptable degree. And when you combine that with audio and the internet, the possibilities are endless for the maintenance of the language.

Its the issue of how a language is sustained that is the true difference between an ancient language and a modern language. Both types of languages can and should be taught using communicative methodology. But when it comes to maintaining them, very different approaches must be used. You maintain an ancient language differently than a modern language

And when am ancient language is learned and internalized rather than merely decoded, we will have better exegetes who, instead of trudging through the details to determine the meaning the of the text, will be able to naturally read and understand the meaning of the text. We won’t have to worry about them getting caught up on little points that are irrelevant but are turned into some sort of major discovery.

So the issue isn’t, “Communcative Methods aren’t sustainable,” its, “Traditional Methods aren’t sustainable, Communicative Methods are currently untested, how can we ensure them to be sustainable?”