In case you’re wondering what I’m up to at college, here’s an update.
This was the scene last week when I was preparing for college after mid-semester break. The espresso is a decaf one, the frittata was delicious, and in the bottom left of the page you can see my attempts at translation. A long horizontal line indicates somewhere that my vocabulary hasn’t been up to scratch.
Let’s assume for the sake of this post that it’s actually worth looking at the stories about Jesus’ life – I think it is. I’d rather be as well-informed about these things as I can be, hence the study.
The question remains: why would anyone in their right mind devote 4 hours per week to looking at one of the stories about Jesus’ life in the original language?
Partly for the challenge, and for a break from the different communication styles of the 21st century. Partly to try and understand things better, though the more I learn about Greek, the more I realise I have to learn. Mostly to take things slow.
When you’re doing classroom-style translation and exegesis (the latter is a word meaning “get the meaning out”), the passage moves very slowly. One hour we might only do 5 or 6 verses. Very slowly. Is this frustrating? Strangely, no. It’s a chance to try and apply everything I’ve learned about Greek all in one hit. Mis-translations can be shot down, obscure rules dusted off and re-learned.
But mostly, taking things slow helps bring things to life. In Luke, it’s a fairly rapid pace moving from Jesus’ arrest to Peter’s denial. At classroom pace, it’s an hour (or more!). You feel a greater sense of what it was like by virtue of the time passing around you.
I’d love to go into more detail about the grammatical challenges and other nuances, but I think I’ll lose everyone. Let’s leave it there for now.