In the recent issue of Credo Magazine, “The English Reformation,” Kenneth Berding talks about his success teaching Greek, his love for the Apostolic Fathers, and his passion to see students learn the Bible. Kenneth Berding (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament at Biola University andTalbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.
Here is the start of the 10 Questions interview with Berding:
The biblical languages are crucial to understanding the meaning of the biblical text. However, students often struggle to learn Greek and Hebrew. You have found a creative, even exciting way to learn New Testament Greek. Would you tell us why learning Greek by song is so promising?
Music taps into sections of your brain that other memorization techniques do not. Sing and Learn New Testament Greek uses simple tunes—actually the simplest of all possible melodies—to aid you in remembering the myriads of required Greek grammar forms. Truth be told, once you learn these songs, your problem will not be remembering them; your problem will be getting them out of your head. The long-term payoff of learning Greek grammar through music is also much greater. I regularly hear from past students who contact me simply to let me know that they still know all their Greek songs and use them when they read their Greek New Testaments.
Is there any particular tip you would give to the student using your method?
You can use these songs as a supplement to any method. Once you have learned the songs by singing them over and over again, start chanting them without singing—as fast as you can. In my classes at Biola University, I offer a button (the most prized award at my university campus!) to anyone who can chant through all 10 grammar songs (excluding the prepositions song) in 75 seconds. The button reads: I Survived Berding’s 75 second Greek Challenge. If you can train yourself to chant really quickly through the songs (without breaks, not singing), you can locate in your head and parse in seconds whatever noun, indicative verb, participle, infinitive, or whatever you encounter on the page of your Greek New Testament.
In your own life and ministry, in what ways has learning New Testament Greek proved fruitful?
The single most valuable take-away from learning Greek for me has been the joy of simply reading each morning out of the Greek New Testament. I’ve recently finished my 10th time reading through the New Testament in Greek. Reading in Greek forces me to slow down and notice things I would never have thought to notice when reading in English. In addition, every time I prepare to preach on a New Testament passage, the first thing I do is diagram it in Greek. This discipline allows me to identify what’s important in the passage, and, in particular, how various phrases relate to one another before I start my message prep. …
Read the rest of the 10 Questions interview today!