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Interview with Ken Berding part 2 - "Sing and Learn New Testament Greek"

Categories New Testament

Following is part 2 of my interview with Dr. Ken Berding, associate professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology, regarding his innovative recording project, "Sing and Learn New Testament Greek."

5) With all that pastors are responsible for, how will studying Greek affect their ministry?

Pastors who have the ability to read and study the Greek text have definite advantages over those who minister entirely out of the English text. First, the pastor can do his first read in Greek of the passage he plans to preach. Since his Greek skills will almost always be less proficient than his English skills, the process of reading Greek will slow him down and assist him in asking questions he might not consider if he is reading in English. When he moves into the study stage, the ability to diagram in Greek (I diagram all my messages in Greek before I work up an outline) allows the emphases of the passage to be more clearly seen than when diagramming in English. Third, the pastor who knows Greek can draw insights from Greek exegetical commentaries which, for many books of the New Testament, are the best commentaries out there. Finally, the pastor who reads a few paragraphs out of his Greek New Testament each day—not for sermon preparation, but for simply learning from the Scriptures—will discover a richness that simply does not exist in any translation. True, an English reader will get most of the meaning, just as someone watching an old black-and white movie gets the meaning of the movie. But it is quite a different experience to watch a movie in high definition with surround sound. Greek delivers the text in high definition.

6) Any practical advice for Greek students?

The easiest way to make it through elementary Greek is to stay up 100% on the assigned grammar and vocabulary. Because of past experiences in school, students often enter Greek thinking that they should aim for a “B” or a “C” in the class. But learning some of the grammar and vocabulary doesn’t work for learning Greek—or any other language for that matter. The easiest way to learn Greek is to keep up on what you’ve been assigned to learn. Since I live in southern California, let me ask a surfing question as an analogy. Is it easier to ride on the wave or get caught under the wave? It is obviously easier to ride on the wave. Staying up on grammar and vocabulary is the way you stay on the wave and don’t get caught underneath it. The other piece of advice I can give is to memorize grammar using songs! Do you want to learn Greek just so you can pass a class, or do you want to remember what you learn over the long haul? If you want to remember your grammar forms, learn them to music.

7) Any plans to take a band on the road?

Nope. These songs are awesome for learning Greek—there’s nothing else like them—but they sure ain’t gonna’ draw a crowd at Carnegie Hall…

Thanks Ken for taking the time to be interviewed. To read more, visit Matthew Montonini's blog, "New Testament Perspectives" by clicking here. If you would like to here an example of Ken's work click here.

Have you sung noun endings to "The Farmer in the Dell" yet? How about imperatives to "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"?


Interview with Ken Berding part 1 - "Sing and Learn New Testament Greek"
Interview with Ken Berding part 1 - "Sing and Learn New Testament Greek" Ken Berding (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is associate professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theolog...
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