Learning to read the Greek Bible

I want to read the Bible in the original Greek. To be specific, I'd like to be able to sit down and read the New Testament (or LXX) as fluently as I can English. For that, I need to learn Koine Greek.

The typical skill people are taught in ancient language classes is the ability to parse and "decode" those languages (but this is slowly changing). You learn a bunch of stuff about the grammar, and memorise a bunch of vocabulary, and then you're able to pick your way through a text.

This is reasonable given the constraints of those courses. It takes a long time and a lot of effort to really learn a language to fluency — something people eg in seminary don't always want/need to invest. In those cases having the skills to pick through a text and judge between more skilled scholars is enough, and useful.

But I'm a guy with free time, and I'd like to get beyond that stage, working my way asymptotically towards the point of fluency. Also I don't feel like memorising a bunch of vocab and conjugation tables!

So what I need is to internalise the language. Learn it in a similar way people learn living languages today.

There are multiple different paths you can take. Some people go to immersion colleges like Polis, or take online immersion courses like Seumas Macdonald's. While I might eventually do one of these, I want to start off on my own first, and at minimal cost.

The heart of language is Sound associated with Meaning. Even when we read silently, we usually subvocalise the written words into a stream of sound that we interpret as speech. And so the skills of knowing a language are to listen and speak: be able to interpret Sound into Meaning, and then (optionally in my case) be able to encode Meaning in Sound.

Apparently the best way to train you brain to unconsciouly do this is to get Comprehensible Input. This is any kind of input (words written or spoken) that you can understand "somehow", whether directly because you know them, or by some means of a side-channel — you can infer the meaning using something else. Getting lots of this kind of input — and it really needs to be a LOT of it — will over time will train your brain to automatically interpret the Sound.

So that's what I'm trying to do. I've been at this for a few years on and off, using various approaches. None of them have stuck very long, though some for longer than others. My current stab at this led me to build the application Grozer, and take it through multiple generations as my learning theories changed and new ideas came to me.

Next up, I'll talk more about my experiments with Grozer.