Learn New Testament Greek (Dobson)

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Bob, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    Learn New Testament Greek by John Dobson is our current choice for our NT Greek program (specifically 1st and 2nd ed). After sifting through many grammars we stumbled upon this one. So far we have seen that it keeps students from getting bogged down in "grammar" and instead focuses on getting them functional as soon as possible. Lesson 2 is a whole sentence. The author does not use technical terms until later in the book.

    The lessons are short, compared to what we are used to. We used to have 3 hour long classes once a week, but especially after seeing this book we decided to go for 1 hour 3 times a week, with the third day being review. In the past we have spent most of our time talking about grammar and not much time with in-class practice. The lessons are small enough so that we can be sure that the students can grasp it, but what really knocks this book out of the park is the tons of examples in every lesson.

    Each set of examples has a line down the page, with Greek on the left and English on the right. Since this book is set up for self-study, the idea is that you cover the English and try to make a translation, and then check it. Keep coming back and doing this until you've got it down. I think having a teacher here is ideal, because they can quickly tell you if your translation is still valid if it's not word for word how the author did it, and why the translation is wrong if it's wrong.

    Apparently they don't put this on the cover anymore, but they have a claim that you can start reading the actual New Testament in 10 days. This is if you do two lessons a day 6 days a week. This seems pretty hardcore and I don't know if I could do it myself. Still certainly he's preparing you to read 1st John over 20ish lessons.

    As I said, he doesn't use technical words for quite some time. For example, at some point he goes into 2nd declension masculine nouns. But, he doesn't tell you that. He just says, logos is a subject, logon is a object, logou is "of", and so forth followed by examples. After you get a pretty good hold on that he goes into 1st declension feminine. But he doesn't tell you that. He just tells you that this is a different pattern that some nouns follow, that it looks a little different but works pretty much the same. Then, again, lots of examples. As a result, we didn't have to explain that most of the time "masculine" and "feminine" have nothing to do with "natural gender" to a room of confused faces.

    We're about 20% through this book so far, and we've had more success keeping students than ever before. The level of complaining is about the same, but everyone so far has been able to keep up. And, they have a better working knowledge of the language than many of our students that get all the way through some of our other grammars. I set up some FSI-style oral drill like our last time around, but didn't have to try nearly as hard for them to "get" it. I'm still doing this sort of thing for evaluation purposes.

    The drawbacks are, one, it's hard to go back and find something later, since this book doesn't do, say, all the definite articles at once. The organization of the book would probably drive me nuts personally, because I want to see everything up front.

    Two, this guy is really into contextual translations as opposed to literal translations, and is quick to tell you what something should be translated as, sometimes to the point of having no logical alternative. I wish he had a more balanced view, but of course we the teachers can do that.

    It remains to be seen if we will go though a more "thorough" grammar after we are done with this book.
  2. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the review Bob. When you say "we", are you referring to a bible school in Cebu? Just curious.
  3. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    This is part of a two year class we offer in our non-denominational church. We have more freedom to try new things :p We don't even have grades yet this time around, but we just did some translation homework, and all the students did great... allowing for translating into English by non-primary speakers. We give the option to translate into Cebuano but no one has tried that yet.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015
  4. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    I'm pretty sure this is the same guy that wrote the book I used when I was in bible college; the book looks really different though but I distinctly remember his name. It was a good book from what I recall. Found it better than some of the wordier books I was using to supplement it with.

    EDIT: nevermind was thinking of mounce..
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015
  5. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    Mounce was also a much easier grammar that we've used in the past, and had the same bias to contextual translation. That was before I joined. I still think this one is easier. Some of the later tests in Dobson's book, I don't like at all. We just skipped them. They are the, "what is the best translation?" tests (as opposed the the most correct) and they might as well look like this:

    a) dynamic equivalence
    b) paraphrase
    c) literal

    and it's like, well, what is the goal of your translation?

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