Seminary-Bonnie once made the comparison of Koine Greek to math. This was not a compliment.
Koine Greek, for the uninitiated, is the Greek that was spoken and written in during the time that the New Testament was written, and so if you are studying at a seminary in order to more deeply expound those texts to other people, most seminaries require you to have at least a working knowledge of the language. (And Hebrew, for the Old Testament, but we’ll get to that later. Like, next year or something.)
Because of convoluted details involving commuting four hours a day, etc, starting next semester, with which I will not bore you, I am trying to finish up Greek 1 quickly, in order to take Greek 2 on my own, so I can test out of it and fill in those credits with a class that only meets once a week instead of one that meets twice or three times. (Don’t try to understand that if you don’t want to. Now you know how I feel learning about the third declension.)
Anyway, I do like languages, and there’s some really interesting details I’m learning. Like, the word that often gets translated eternity in English really has more of an underlying meaning of age. The observation was made by Dr. Greek that some of our current Christian understandings about the future promises for which we wait has been influenced by this not-entirely-accurate translation–we have this idea that someday we, like God, will be outside of time, but the eternity described in the Biblical texts, though possibly unending, still functions within the construct of time. I’m still trying to get my head around this, and also wondering how, if that was the Greek understanding of that word, it is supposedly also the infiltration of Greek ideas into an originally Hebrew mindset that got us to think that way about eternity. How could the Greeks have communicated this spiritual/material dualism in their ideas about the time/space continuum if they didn’t have a word that carried that dualistic idea? Also? Last week I learned how to say, “I don’t have a husband.” In 2000-year-old Greek. Seems useful to me!
All this to say that, even though I’m finding some aspects of this study challenging (like, staying caught up, and telling the difference between all those subordinating adverbial particles), I kind of like Greek and hadn’t really been making the connexion to math until sometime this week. This week I took a couple of quizzes and it occurred to me that I consistently make mistakes that are totally avoidable.
My relationship to math these days is pretty nonexistent (I’m lucky if I can add–I certainly can no longer do so in my head), but when I was in high school, though I didn’t like it, I could do relatively complex math if I concentrated. It took me a little longer to comprehend the more advanced concepts than it did some people, but I basically could understand it, eventually at least. My biggest problem was usually not comprehension, but just missing a detail that I should have seen. Kind of like skimming a novel and then realising a character was just introduced a few pages back but you have no idea who they are. (Come to think of it, this may be exactly why I was a failure as a copy-editor–I have a very good grasp of the mechanics of language, I just don’t have a very consistent eye for detail.)
So now I have this stack of quizzes which I have to mail in next week, all of which have some glaring errors which, sadly, did not glare when I made them so that I could fix them. Of course I knew that logoi is plural–but it made sense in the singular so I just translated it that way. Oops.
As well as having to turn in these embarrassing quizzes, I have a second (of three) exam coming up next week, and I’m nervous. I’m not nervous because I am missing or misunderstanding information. I’m nervous because I’m aware that I can’t trust my own ability to notice the details, and I don’t know how to fix that. Good thing no one ever thought of hiring me to work on a official, to-be-published, translation of the Bible.