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J.A.A. Purves

Classical Languages

7 posts in this topic

I'm going to be starting much later than I ever should have. With a full time job and while not living near any university that offers Greek or Latin courses, I am going to have to use books/CDs/DVDs or an online class to teach myself.

But, I've become slowly and reluctantly convinced over this last year that I need to learn Classical Greek and Latin. I'm not expecting for this to happen quickly, but it's time to start. There is no good reason not to.

Does anyone here read Classical Greek or Latin? Are there any books or training courses you know of that you would recommend? Of the two languages, which language is it better to tackle first?

I've been doing some research. I've been talking to a couple of my old college professors (who can read and write in Latin, but have never taught classes on it themselves). And, I'm compiling a list of books and references to acquire. Once I start collecting them and trying to use them, I'll post here on how well I find them to work.

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I read both and have taught/teach both. I would definitely start with basic Latin for a few reasons. First, the confounder of learning to read the Greek alphabet increases the learning curve a bit, especially if you are getting beyond your basic NT Greek into source texts that haven't been sanitized with punctuation for modern readers. Second, the immediate familiarity with much Latin vocab makes reading basic Latin texts much simpler. Third, Latin has a very complicated verbal system that will prepare you for some of the nuances of Greek verbal grammar and sentence structure.

Right now, I would recommend two texts. The Cambridge Latin series is how most of us who learned Latin at younger ages started. It is a very intuitive series that builds your capacity in grammar, vocab, nouns/modifiers, and verbs all at the same time. By the time you get to the end of the series, you have a very firm command of Latin grammar and syntax and a vocab ready to deploy in classical readings. The standard self-directed text is Wheelock's. This is what most use in intensive contexts, brushing up for comps, or just starting out. I don't think the Learn to Read Latin textbook has a didactic edge on Wheelock. Pick up the Wheelock workbook and you are good to go. I would have a hard time recommending any other two texts than these for someone learning on their own.

Greek is a different beast because it depends on what you want to read. If you are primarily interested in Koine/Early Christian texts, then I would look no further than the Mounce/Wallace series published by Zondervan. Otherwise, it gets a bit difficult to land on one text. This is something I am going to dig into next year. Otherwise, I have about six classical Greek intros and grammars I refer to on a regular basis.

Edited by M. Leary

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My dad worked on a great CD Rom program with Dr. Lyle Story at Regent University called Greek To Me, it uses a sort of flash card kind of system with pictures and stuff.

http://www.amazon.co...y/dp/159160222X the book form

http://www.covenants...eek-cd-rom.html cd rom

Edited by Justin Hanvey

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Thank you for these recommendations. I'll take a close look at them.

I just talked to a friend who was a Classics major and she told me to begin with Latin first as well. She said that it's going to be hard work, but if I stay persistent at it, I may be able to start reading works in Latin in 2-3 years from now. Then, after that, I can begin on Classical Greek.

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the great thing about Greek to Me is it's set up to be easy for 6th grade and above, so it's a very easy program to learn from.

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I just talked to a friend who was a Classics major and she told me to begin with Latin first as well. She said that it's going to be hard work, but if I stay persistent at it, I may be able to start reading works in Latin in 2-3 years from now. Then, after that, I can begin on Classical Greek.

I'm supposedly fluent in French and Russian (I don't think I am anymore, but in the past I've caught myself thinking in both.) I've also taken Greek and a fourth language for a year each.

Russian has a different alphabet and no family ties to English - the only words that ring a bell are borrowings like tractor or cigarette. But my 3rd and 4th languages (one dead and one resuscitated/kept alive on a kind of life support) were *so* much harder for me. I know I picked up less and forgot more, even adjusting for the time variable.

My teachers for both used a very traditional, English model of learning through translation, which i hated. (the texts were too hard and dry) But I also missed aurality badly. Its' not just knowing how to pronounce the words. It's the back and forth of conversation, wrapping your tongue arond a phrase, hearing a film or song, native speakers. I hadn't anticipated minding how much I'd mind the 'deadness' of Classical Greek, as my academic focus was on lit in print. On the other hand, I think dead languages shrink the gap between the classroom and self-study. And I agree about the dedication and discipline. i wanted to know Greek for the NT, but I wasn't really prepared to pay my dues reading about sailors and soldiers. (I should have had Justin's father's book.) I'm curious about what convinces you that you need Greek and Latin? I can think of lots of good reasons but there's such a steady drift away from the Classics.

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Well, the book is Dr. Story's, but my dad basically made the cd rom program. Just a clarification. :)

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