Reading Vs. Analysis Question

I’m sure many of your remember my poll a while back asking whether you placed a higher priority on reading or analysis.

If you haven’t voted on it, I’d encourage you to do so. I’m interested in your view.

But now I have a follow up question that requires more than clicking a button:

Why did you choose the answer you did? In your mind, what makes reading or analysis more important for your study of the Greek text?

Please feel free to either respond in the comments below or on your own (if you have one). I’d be interested if this turned into a multi-blog discussion if possible. And I know that there are a number of lurkers around here who have never commented. I’m very interested in your opinion too.

5 thoughts on “Reading Vs. Analysis Question

Add yours

  1. I think that I stated my ambivalent response to this question when you originally raised it. It really depends on whether I’m reading through a chunk of sequential text for pleasure and/or edification — in which case I read straight through and try to understand what’s being said in its own verbal sequential order –, or alternatively, I’m looking at a verse or sentence or even a paragraph by itself in relationship to a question or comment raised by another or a question that has come to mind as I have read sequentially. In that case I may consider the text analytically, noting how the words relate to each other syntactically, considering possible alternative ways of understanding constructions in the passage, and also considering the words of interest in terms of denotations and connotations that may bear upon how the passage may legitimately be understood within its immediate and larger context.

    1. I guess I need to put the question more clearly – that is: What is the end goal in your language learning?

      Specifically, you comment here (and previously too, I think) is geared toward using the language, not learning it. The poll question is focused on why one would want to learn Greek. I’m somewhat surprised by the high number of people whose *only* or primary goal in “learning” Greek is analysis, as if one cannot understand a text unless you parse it word for word.

  2. When I voted for Analysis, I was not voting for recognition of grammatical forms, parsing, etc. Rather, I have a 2 week intensive Greek course followed by a semester course to teach Greek. (We do continue to apply Greek in subsequent NT courses.) In that short of a time, my students cannot possibly begin to ‘read’ Greek in any comfortable or enduring way. So, I am focusing on ‘understanding’ the Greek. We have all sorts of software to deal with the grammatical specifics, so I am teaching my students to use and make sense of those tools. When it comes to the NT then, the point is not to recognize an aorist or a genitive but to understand the implications of an aorist and the range of the genitive case. I’m doing more with syntax, so that they can begin to hear the nuances of emphasis in a Greek sentence. As you note elsewhere, I am also trying to get them to understand a Greek word beyond the gloss meaning by actually looking at a BDAG entry or, even better, doing a quick survey of how the word is used elsewhere by that author or in the NT or the LXX…
    I am actually approaching the Greek text by having my students compare English texts. Those translators who composed the English versions are far better ‘readers’ of the Greek text than my students, but it is precisely at those points where the English versions vary among themselves that are usually the most interesting points in the Greek.
    Admittedly this is not an ideal approach, but given the limitations we have, it’s the way I’m trying to provide the best learning. It’s also a way, I think, that my students will actually be able to continue to us when they are in parishes. Of the hundreds of students I have tried to teach to ‘read’ the Greek text in past years, I would wager that very few are doing much Greek at all, because they simply never learned it well enough to ‘read’ it.

    1. Mark, I think I’ve read about your class format before, though I can’t remember where. Considering your limitations in time and what not, I think you’re making the best use of it.

      How long have you been doing the two week modular?

  3. Right now, as a beginner in Koine Greek, I would say my goal is to be able to read the NT text, to read it well, but to read it with NEW EYES.
    That said, it is the analytical part of reading, even though my skills are very rudimentary, that makes me sit up and take notice! For example:
    a) Why is “agape” in I Corinthians 13 modified not my adjectives but by verbs? Were no adjectives available that day, or . . . ? Wallace (and I appreciate Wallace!) calls it the Static Active (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p 412). Uh-huh. Ok. Well, would a translation using verbs be legit?
    b) Matthew 7:7–“Ask! Seek! Knock!” I had never really noticed the imperatives before! Whoops!
    c) And how awesome is the predictive future in Matthew 5: 4–“Blessed are the mourning ones, for they SHALL BE COMFORTED.” (Amen and Thanks be to God.)
    So, while I truly enjoy the few analytical skills that I have and hope to improve and add to them, I am absolutely delighted to be able to read (maybe reading *is* parsing on the fly, I dunno) some of the Greek NT without *stopping* to parse a single word! ; )

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