Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Free Greek course online

A number have asked me for ways to learn Greek. Check out this audio, animated, online Greek course from Professor Ted Hildebrandt of Gordon College (h-t S. C. Saunders).

(I haven't gone through it yet; let me know what you think.)


Mike Jones said...

This blog - it's alive!


DJP said...

It's alive-ish.

Caleb Kolstad said...


Have you looked into this study yet? It is hard to find something good of this sort.


Caleb Kolstad said...

I started this and have enjoyed it thus far-


Annette said...

Looks interesting. I've linked it on my homeschool blog.

William Dicks said...

This blog... alivish?

You gotta be kidding me, Dan!

After 6 months, don't you think it is dead?

Or, have you backslidden and given up on the Greek NT?

DJP said...


William Dicks said...

I see the news of your death has been greatly exaggerated, dear Hellenisti Ginoskeis!

But I do believe you are merely being animated by that miscreant, DJP!

Prove that you are alive and give us something of great worth to read!

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

threegirldad said...

Just noticed this post a couple of days ago (sorry). This is exactly what I've been looking for for a long time. Still loving it after 4 chapters. Woo-hoo!!!

Mike Riccardi said...

I've actually been going through these videos as I go through Mounce's textbook and workbook. I'm trying to prep for seminary in the fall, but don't have time to take an actual class.

Between Mounce's stuff and this, I feel like I'm doing OK. I really appreciate the audio/video, though, because it just helps to hear things pronounced sometimes. Even with the accents and breathing marks, and not just the phonology, it's helpful to just hear them spoken instead of deciphering the pronunciation by looking very carefully at each word.

I also like laughing at his Midwest, Chicago-type accent.

And Dan, you gotta get this blog fired back up again soon.

Mike Riccardi said...

Oh! And I have a question for those who know this stuff better than I do (which is many of you!).

In Romans 12:21, the English text is rendered, "Do not be over come by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Now, "evil" and "good" are substantival adjectives, but they have the article. In Mounce's book, Dan Wallace mentions an example of this coming into play with the Lord's prayer: deliver us from evil (KJV) vs. deliver us from the evil one (NIV, et al.).

Now, it's the same construction in both spots, both are substantival and have the article, so why doesn't Romans 12:21 say, "Do not be overcome by the evil one, but overcome the evil one with the good One."?


DJP said...

And Dan, you gotta get this blog fired back up again soon.

Sure -- in my spare time!

(That's a joke around my house.)

Thanks for the sentiment. Pray I get a fulltime ministry soon. Then, maybe.

David Houser said...

The following is a response to Dr. Ted Hildebrandt’s fine online Greek course, linked to the blog-site hellenisti ginoskeis Do you know Greek?

I have narrowed my response to that part of the course describing the Greek present tense-form.

Every beginning student of Greek anticipates being certain about what he has learned, every Greek teacher seeks to provide that certainty—only to come face to face with the present tense. Nothing might seem more obvious than to translate a present tense-form with present time reference, but in practice a Greek present may also be rendered as past, future, customary, or even timeless (Dr. Ted Hildebrandt’s online Greek course, Chapter 9.2).

What principles keep translation of the present from becoming an arbitrary art? After all, we are dealing with the word of God.

Dr. Hildebrandt himself is pragmatic. Unwilling to paralyze the beginning student further, he suggests translating the present tense with present-time while pondering three points:

the way a verb actually happens = Aktionsart (9.3),
the author’s portrayal of action = Aspect (9.4),
and lexical markers that actually tell the reader what the time frame is = Context (9.5-6, 14.7).

It should be noted that, as defined above, Aktionsart cannot clearly be differentiated from Aspect on the basis of objectivity, because the author is the source of both Aktionsart and Aspect.

A more significant issue is the matter of Aspect and how this course reflects Stanley Porter’s views on Aspect.

Dr. Hildebrandt doesn’t alert the student to Porter’s polarizing influence and his exclusion of time from tense and especially from aspect. Students may not be prepared for the conflicting views to be found in commentaries and articles, or for authorities using the same terms in dissimilar ways.

Many people find Porter’s view of Aspect quite appealing at first glance—and even afterward. His operative metaphor for Aspect, the parade, has proven quite effective in explaining how the aorist differs from the present.

As Dr. Hildebrandt describes Aspect from Porter’s perspective (9.4), the present [and imperfect] presents the parade in progress, with process, particulars, and immediacy: in short, in the foreground. The aorist, however, presents the parade as an event, undefined, as a whole: in short, in the background.

Porter, however, intends this metaphor to resolve the problem of a present tense that appears to mean anything the context requires. To Porter, the present tense-form is not a present-referring form at all; it is an activity/state-referring form free from temporal reference, but which often shows up—some say, “is attracted”—when the context requires describing “present time”.

All questions of time become contextual questions, in which the verb does not influence the outcome. If a present tense-form is found in a present-referring context, the coincidence is simply deemed appropriate, befitting the present’s Aspectual imperfectivity (one wonders why a Greek imperfect, also Aspectually imperfective, is not equally appropriate). Lexical markers (adverbs and the like) are henceforth required to be consistent as to the time frame they reference.

Porter’s parade metaphor, however, is a most unfortunate metaphor for an atemporal depiction of aspect. The problem here is that a parade is inherently, fundamentally temporal in its unfolding. If it is difficult to anticipate subsequent problems arising from this inner incoherence in Porter’s view, it is certain that unnecessary problems and exegetical uncertainty will arise.

In conclusion:

(A) As everyone knows, it is easier to pick apart a masterpiece than to paint one. Dr. Hildebrandt amiably approved of my intent to express my concerns in this public blog-forum, on the principle that critiques are worthy endeavors.

(B) It is not my intent to create my own online Greek course in which I correct whatever I deemed faulty in Dr. Hildebrandt’s course. I presently don’t have the time (no puns intended). However, I would like to mention at least three writers of substance who do not follow a Porter-style detemporalization of the verb.

English: Bernard Comrie’s Tense (1985) and Aspect (1976).
OT Hebrew: Bruce Waltke’s An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (1990)
LXX Greek: T. V. Evans’ Verbal Syntax in the Greek Pentateuch (2001)

Two recent NT Greek grammars of Fanning (his wonderful Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek, 1990) and Wallace (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 1996), while supporting temporality in the verb, nevertheless cancel ‘invariant’ aspectual traits for the sake of context. These comments are made concerning the historical present: ‘the temporal meaning predominates and neutralizes the aspectual force’ (Fanning, p.228, his emphasis); ‘the aspectual value of the historical present is normally, if not always, reduced to zero’ (Wallace, p.527, his emphasis).

Similarly regarding the historical present, the older grammars of Robertson and BDF: Robertson (p.836) can speak of an ‘aoristic present’; BDF §321 notes that ‘the Aktionsart usually remains punctiliar in spite of the present tense form’ (in BDF ‘punctiliar’ = perfective, and ‘present tense form’ = imperfective).

(C) Porter exaggerates the problems traditionally associated with rendering the Greek present tense as past (Historical Present), future, customary, gnomic, and the like. Porter’s own imperfective Aspect, provided one restores internal temporal constituency to the present tense, works well enough. Imperfectivity (the Aspect, not the Greek tense) views a situation from within, without explicit reference either to the beginning of the situation or its conclusion, yet still capable of referring to moments preceding the present moment or moments following provided that no terminal point is referenced. (cf Comrie, Aspect, p.66)

Under that imperfective umbrella fits the “futuristic” present, various kinds of habitual presents “customary”, “gnomic”, and the like.

Even the Greek historical present (an oxymoron, of course) retains its imperfectivity of Aspect due to “tense switching” (cf Fludernik, The Historical Present in English Literature, 1992).

Some further observations about the historical present: first, once the temporal reference point is established by narrative, a subsequent verb can freely describe [as opposed to ‘narrate’] the next event— or not [= narration].

Second, a historical present is not so much neutralized as inserted into a narrative past, which resumes when the tense switches back to the narrative past. Frequent tense-switching involving the historical present shows that a lead narrative verb doesn’t cancel aspect in the chain of verbs following it (contra Kiparsky, 1968).

Third, the historical present serves as interpretation (the traditional “vividness”) or highlighting (cf. Porter’s foregrounding) the importance of what otherwise would be buried in narrative.

DJP said...

David Houser went above and beyond in contacting both me and Dr. Hildebrandt before posting this, and I appreciate him for it.

Steve T said...

Real glad to have found these! Here in the barren wilderness of the UK you will be hard pushed to find anything that will even give you a basic grounding in NT Greek, plus being the socialists we all are over here, we haven't got the shekels to pay for a course even if there was one available, so I am doubly thankful for these. I've been through 3 of them just to get a taste of things to come and I'm much impressed by the way Dr. Hildebrandt presents the lessons, my many thanks to him for his hard work and to you Dan for providing the link. I am really jealous (in a good way I hope) at the spiritual riches that you folks still enjoy over the other side of the pond, treasure them folks the Lord alone knows for how much longer you will be able to enjoy them!

Daryl said...

I just began this series and am enjoying it so far.
I've wanted to learn Greek for some time now so we'll see how this goes.

Any other recommendations for books and things beyond this?

dede said...

i was raised by Greek parents. The pronounication of the Greek words by the little animated guy is horrible. Often, when i hear preachers/pastors try to speak Greek, i cringe. i can't understand what their saying because they Americanize the pronunciation of the Greek.

Question: What to do?
Answer: Find a language course with an authentic

just my thoughts,