Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

4 Jan 2014

Refresh Your Greek in 15 Minutes a Day

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If you’ve decided to shake out of your Greek-less stupor in this new year but aren’t yet sure how to do it, let me try to offer you some help. Here’s a link to a refresher schedule I recommend my first year students complete during their Winter break between Greek semesters 1 and 2. In it you’ll find nine 15-minute reviews that will guide you through two entire books of the NT—that sounds so much more impressive than simply saying 2–3 John, doesn’t it?—and through the first 25 chapters of Mounce’s Grammar, which I suspect nearly everyone reading this has used at some point.

Once you’ve downloaded and printed off the schedule, here’s what you’ll do for the next nine days. Set your timer for 15 minutes. (I like to use this one.) Spend the first 10 minutes with the translation assignment—usually 2–3 verses per day. I’d suggest you start by (1) quickly marking off each discrete sentence—I tell my students to draw a red line through every period; (2) putting parentheses around any prepositional phrases; (3) finding and highlighting the main verb in each sentence; (4) seeing if there’s an explicit subject (i.e., look for words nearby in the nominative case); and, finally, (5) identifying any of the verb’s objects (i.e., look for words nearby in the dative or accusative cases). Once you’ve broken down each translation assignment like this, producing a rough translation of the assigned verses should be relatively easy. Moreover, on the bottom of the second page, I’ve included a little lexicon giving the lexical form and a simple gloss for words you’ll likely not remember. Then, in the last 5 minutes, skim through the assigned Mounce chapters, paying special attention to any paradigms you find and to the vocabulary at the end of each chapter. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll remember even in such a short review. If you can’t complete the review in 15 minutes, don’t worry too much about it. Just see how far you can get each day. If you’re diligent with this, I think you’ll be surprised at your progress by days 7, 8 and 9.

Once you’ve completed the review, here’s a link to another, slightly more extensive review that you may want to use as a follow-up. (If you’re really feeling energetic and you’re local, consider joining my Rapid Greek Reading course this semester. Email me for details if you’re interested.) Whatever you do, however, the key is consistency. If you can simply dedicate 15 minutes a day, you’ll go a long way toward meeting your resolution and you’ll be much happier with your Greek at the end of this year than you are right now. Χάρις καὶ εἰρήνη.

4 Responses

  1. Thanks for the post. I’m wondering, though: how can a layman learn Greek from home? Any thoughts? Some of us never got it in college and would like to learn.

  2. Jared Compton

    Adam, the best place to start would be to slowly work through Mounce’s Grammar and accompanying workbook. For more info., see his site Even better would be to get a couple of others to join you, so you’d have a bit of accountability and support.

  3. Brenda

    Thanks for this. Yesterday I started using your resource for 2 John. Have you done similar schedules/guides for other New Testament books besides 2&3 John?

  4. Jared Compton

    Great to hear, Brenda! I haven’t, but you may find Wallace’s suggested plan helpful. I give a link in my piece. There he also mentions a few resources that you might want to pick up. Let me know if you find anything especially helpful and keep up the good work!