Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Greek Chorus
by Jo-Ann Badley
[with thanks to Jo-Ann Badley and apologies to the late Dr. Seuss]
I do not wish to study Greek
I do not want to be a Geek.
Would you study in your room?
And there prepare to meet your doom?
Would you study at a table?
Would you, could you, were you able?
Would you study on the train?
There, perchance, to strain your brain?
Would you, could you, on term break?
Do it for the gospel's sake?
I will not do it on term break
Not even for the gospel's sake;
I do not like to memorize:
Those funny letters hurt my eyes.
Not in a train, not with my brain,
Not at a table, though I'm able,
Not in my room to meet my doom:
Not here or there or anywhere...
I do not wish to study Greek
I do not want to be a Geek.
Take Greek this term without apology,
Drop anthro- theo- missiology!
Switch to Greek from other classes
It matters not if no-one passes...
Perhaps for you, but not for me:
Greek isn't practical, you see,
I'd rather learn to fix transmissions
I'm a candidate for missions.
Would you take in the summer?
Six weeks of verbs won't make you dumber
You might like the paradigms:
Repeat those lists five thousand times.
I would not, could not, in the summer
For six whole weeks a real bummer!
I will not study Greek at all
Not in summer, not in fall.
Greek is really for the birds
Greek is really just for nerds
I do not wish to study Greek
I do not want to be a Geek.
You do not like it, so you say
Try it, try it, and you may
Try it and you may, I say:
lego, legeis, and legei...
lego, legeis... now I've got it
Whatever it means, I needn't stop it.
This learning Greek is so much fun
A few more weeks and I'll be done.
Now I'll learn those paradigms,
Repeat vocab a million times.
In the summer, in the fall,
I'll do it any time at all.
I'll swap my Greek for other classes,
I won't mind if no one passes.
I will study in a tree,
Now I know that Greek's for me:
I will do a Ph.D.
I will study on term break;
Greek will be a piece of cake.
I will study on a train,
Let conjugations fill my brain.
I will study at a table;
Learn the aorist since I'm able.
I will study in my room,
Morning, night, and afternoon.
I will study here and there:
I will study anywhere!
I do so love to study Greek:
I really want to be a Geek.

My New Testament Greek professor had this poem read in our class and then emailed it to us. This poem is supposed to have Greek letters for "lego, legeis, legei" but those won't publish in blogger.
I love learning Greek; I just hope I can keep it up long enough for it to remain with me and not disappear as French did after highschool. I hope I can use it in biblical scholarship in an academic setting, but even just learning the original language of the New Testament is a valuable thing. I will get a copy of the Greek New Testament next semester from the Bible Society. The second year of Greek is exegesis. And then there is Hebrew, which I really want to learn too, so I can read the Old Testament in its original language. Not everyone understands my attraction to taking this class or recognizes the value of reading the New Testament in its original language, but it is fascinating to me and it will be essential if I am going to be a biblical scholar in post-graduate studies. Ofcourse I am only starting to learn it, but so far it is going well. Too bad I never took it at Redeemer where I studied English and Religion. My brother took it as an elective.


John den Boer said...

Yeah, Greek is intense. I wish I kept it up. I have forgotten quite a few things.

Gaitergrad said...

I found your blog through Janice Barnhoorn's blog and am quite fascinated by your posts.

I'm doing my Master's in Theological Studies right now and am currently taking Hebrew. It is quite difficulty and stressful, but rewarding to be able to read the Hebrew Old Testament. Calvin College offers Hebrew as a visiting student (I did it last year and am still keeping up with it as I do Hebrew at univ). You can work at your leisure, its a great introduction to Hebrew.

Suzanne den Boer said...

John, are you still glad that you took it? There are some in my class who are learning it a second time after dropping it for awhile and it comes easier for them. Many who learn it don't keep it up. Those who learn it in seminary find many other uses for their time in ministry and can rely on the research of others.

Wow- Hebrew as a visiting student, I will have to look into that. I am sadly behind on the whole application to graduate school, research into schools thing. My fortune cookie today read "The best answer is action." Normally I don't put much stock in fortune cookies, but probably that is some good advice. I need to get down to some serious work. Anyways thanks for your comment and the information. It is good to hear from someone who is taking Hebrew and actually doing what I would love to pursue. I can think of a million questions...

Gaitergrad said...

I love my MTS program. I get to take such a broad range of courses and am learning so much. If you want more details or such you can read my blog or email me with questions. ( I'm so happy with my life right now and school, it's wonderful.

I can give you a bit more info about Hebrew at Calvin. It helped me a lot with the Hebrew course I'm doing now

Anonymous said...

Hi Suzanne,

I thought your greek poem was hilarious. when I was in my first year the only poem we got was from wenham's textbook:

greek is a language,
at least it used to be,
it killed off all the greeks,
and now it's killing me!
all are dead who ever spoke it,
all are dead who ever wrote it,
blessed death, they surely earned it!

In any case, good luck in your studies, I hope you keep them up. One year of greek is pretty much just enough to be a cult leader. After my third year of greek at the end of my undergrad program, my greek prof told us (the 4 of the original 36!) that we now had our "private pilot's license" so we could "fly ourselves" but we should not yet be so bold as to think we had a "commercial license" and could "fly others."

And now I've come to see that even when you get that commercial license, it's definitely a less-is-more situation. The average congregant doesn't speak Greek, and so to appeal to it openly in a sermon has limited probative value for them. Like the pastor who once preached "authority comes from the greek word exousia, which means to have power over or the right to do something" and I thought to myself "good thing he appealed to the greek there, because 'authority' just doesn't mean that in english!" Appeals like that really end up being just a power grab for the preacher, not a service to the congregant.

Reading in the NT in the greek is, I have found, a tremendously rewarding exercise for me personally. When you get in the pulpit however, to quote my old prof again, the job of the greek scholar is to make clear in the english what they learned in the greek.

best to you,


Suzanne den Boer said...

Thanks rw,
It is a rather clever poem. I wish I had written it. Thanks for sharing yours and for passing on your insights. I would agree that in a sermon, references to the Greek should be kept to a minimum or avoided completely unless it adds something to the sermon. Studying a passage in Greek yourself may yield new insights, once you are at an advanced level of exegetical skill. Right now I can't find much in the Greek that I couldn't find in the English translation.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am glad I took it. It was hard work and I was proud of the results I earned.