Monday, May 16, 2011

Quote of the Day: Bruce Longenecker

Bruce Longenecker's Remember the Poor: Paul, Poverty, and the Greco-Roman World has been a stimulating read thus far. In critiquing the binary model of Justin Meggitt's Paul, Poverty, and Survival (T&T Clark), where the latter estimates that 99% of the Roman Empire's population was subject to abject poverty, while admitting that his model is not nuanced enough, (Meggitt) "explains this away as being a necessary hostage to fortune in order to ground his thesis properly" (Longenecker on Meggitt, 42).

Lonegecker's more full response on Meggitt's model qualifies as my quote of the day:

One gets the sense that, in order to prove that all urban-Jesus followers lived in squalid conditions, Meggitt first must excuse himself for taking liberties in his reconstruction of economic realities of the ancient world, not least with his claim that everyone except 1% lived in squalid conditions. If widespread and notable data need to be swept under the carpet in order to prove a thesis, it might be better to sweep the thesis under the carpet instead (43; italics mine).

This is good criticism for all of those to take heed when presenting any thesis of any kind. We cannot, nor should not ignore all the available evidence, making the evidence a slave to the thesis instead of the other way around.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bill Mounce and the Quote of the Day

Here is Bill Mounce on the importance of learning Greek:

The only people I have heard say that Greek is not important are those who do not themselves know Greek. Strange. Can you imagine someone who knows nothing about tennis say that is unnecessary ever to take tennis lessons? Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? (Basics of Biblical Greek, [3rd edition], 4).

Biblical Greek Accents

Beginning Greek students are a generally overwhelmed group. At least that is the a priori assumption of most Greek grammars (although, not Porter's new one!). While it may be true that many (if not all) Greek students will go through periods of wandering through the dense fog that is grammar, syntax, and vocabulary acquisition, this does not mean that we should be handled with kid's gloves. This mentality, in my opinion, is the reason why the Greek accent gets short shrift in most Beginning Greek Grammars.

Recently, I have begun to read through Basics of Biblical Greek (3rd edition), for the first time (I learned from another grammar in seminary). Accent rules are not featured all that much in this grammar either, but the fact that I am a curious sort who always wants to understand the 'why?' questions, like "Why does the acute accent go there?", I am determined to learn them. Yes, I realize that this is going to take work, but I hate not knowing.

Does this mean I want to wade through 167 pages of Carson's Greek Accents: A Student's Manual? Not really. So what other alternatives are out there? Probably the most useful item I have found (and forgive me if you have already seen this!) is John Schwandt's (Institute of Biblical Greek) series of videos on the subject. Do yourself a favor and check these out. He does a great job of helping the student visualize how Greek accents are placed.