I try to read at least a little bit of the Greek New Testament and/or Septuagint every day. Here are a few tools that have helped me do that in a sustainable way, while still keeping a fairly busy schedule.
One of the things that I’ve found most helpful in keeping a sustainable relationship with Biblical Greek over the years has been having audio resources to study with. I find that following along to the text being read aloud really helps me focus on what I’m reading (in any language, but especially with Koine).
Two main resources here:
First, is Ben Kantor’s work at KoineGreek.com. He has some of the best audio recordings that I’ve found of the Greek New Testament, with really purposeful emphasis and pacing in his reading. If you become one of his patrons, you can actually download the audio files for the recordings, so you can keep them offline and listen to them without the distraction of the internet.
Ben also has a YouTube Channel, where (among a ton of other great content) he has the entire Gospel of Mark done up as a video series with Koine Greek audio! I really love these videos. I actually added the subtitles for many of those videos, making it easier to follow along with the reading.
These recordings use the Restored Pronunciation. Because it’s the best guess scholars currently have to how the text actually sounded originally, the Restored Pronunciation is what I tend to prefer, compared to the Erasmian Pronunciation that’s taught in most Koine Greek classes these days.
However, there are currently only a few texts of scripture available as audio from Ben’s site. He is adding new content regularly, but his selection is still far from a full audio Bible. So, to fill in the gaps, I also have a second set of recordings of the whole Greek New Testament and Septuagint downloaded to my phone. The recording is done in a Modern Greek Pronunciation, which differs slightly from the restored pronunciation, but is close enough that it’s still pretty easy to understand and follow along for someone familiar with the Restored Pronunciation. The recordings I use are can be found on the Faith Comes By Hearing download page. Just select “Greek-Koine” for the language you want, and download the zip files for both of the “1904 audio” selections.
These two resources have meant I can have a pretty high quality audio recording to listen along with for any scripture text I want to read.
Two great resources here:
First, I have a copy of Zondervan’s A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible. This has the definitions of rare/low-frequency words shown in footnotes. While I might select a different printing of a Reader’s Greek NT were I to buy a new one today (specifically, one with a column format for the footnotes to make it easier to follow along), having a fully readable text after learning just a few hundred words is super cool.
Second, because the physical version of the text above can be a quite bulky to travel with, I have Matt Robertson’s GNT Reader app installed on my Android devices, as well. It provides a nice clean reading interface. And, when you inevitably don’t know a word, you can just tap on that word, and its definition will pop up. Very clean, smooth, and fast reading experience.
Update, August 11, 2023: I’ve actually largely stopped using the GNT Reader mentioned above, and instead have started using BART almost exclusively. It’s a bit less user-friendly, but much more powerful. It has both Greek and Hebrew built into it, as well as allows for split screen for multiple translations and languages. Andrew has a tutorial video here about how to use the app for reading Hebrew, but the process is similar for Greek.
When there’s a word I come across that I want to remember, I’ll throw it into some flashcard software, and try to review it around once a day (when I’m on the ball; I’m not always super disciplined in working through my flashcard backlog 😅).
My flashcard software of choice is the free and open source Anki. It uses an Spaced Repetition algorithm to make it so that the better you know a word that you’ve studied, the less often it shows you the card.
It has a bit of a learning curve, but has a ton of really powerful features.
I like to have 3 “cards” for each new word I’m trying to learn (drawing on Gabriel Wyner’s advice in his book Fluent Forever):
- a prompt of the text of the word and audio of its pronunciation, with an image of the meaning of the word and its definition as the answer;
- a prompt of just the image of the word, with the text, audio, and definition as the answer;
- a prompt of just the audio pronunciation of the word, with the text, image, and definition of the word as the answer
I find this stack to be pretty effective at helping me internalize a word and its meaning fairly quickly. The process of recording the pronunciation of a new word, and copying/pasting it and its definition to a new Anki card is also fairly quick when you get used to it. Finding an image can take a bit more time, but I find adding a visual element to the words I’m learning to be disproportionately effective in helping me remember it, so I try to add that especially on words that I’m having more trouble learning (though, I might not have an image for every word).
I first started studying Biblical Greek about 10 years ago. I had some formal classes in it in university, but have learned on my own since then. The resources above are the tools I personally use today, but they might not be as useful to someone starting from scratch.
If I was to start from scratch today, here are a couple tools I’d look at using:
The free course Alpha With Angela does a really great job of introducing students to Koine Greek. Angela uses the Erasmian Pronunciation, which I mentioned above I’m not a huge fan of. However, the words and the grammar she teaches are super helpful for new students.
If you’re willing to pay a bit for a course, Ben Kantor also has a Living Koiné Greek Introduction course sold through the Biblical Language Center.
Either of these can be a good step to get you rolling. After that, I would focus on just listening and reading a lot using the resources above. Getting lots of comprehensible input can be surprisingly effective at helping you acquire a language effectively.