Research | Writing | Digital Humanities | Biblical Studies

Why study vocab? …context.

I have been pouring over Greek vocabulary the last couple of weeks (esp. words occuring less than 15x in the NT). For me, it sometimes feels tedious and vain. I spend time memorizing (or hopefully recalling) English glosses for Greek words apart from any context whatsoever. Why not spend this time moving through a passage of the Greek New Testament? My answer to this question is what keeps me motivated: ‘moving’ through a text requires a knowledge of the vocabulary in the text.

Any time I have to stop reading to look up a word or double-check my mental parsing, I lose a bit of the context of what preceded the word in question. When I’ve looked up the necessary information, I must then re-read the preceding context. But when I know the vocabulary of a given passage and I can accurately parse on the fly, then I am able to move through the text with the context fresh in mind. Though I sometimes stop to analyze words, possible ranges of meaning, syntactical options, etc., I usually find my exegetical ‘nuggets’ when moving quickly through a text.

4 Responses to Why study vocab? …context.

  1. You hit the nail on the head. You get the best results from a combination. I recommend adding some Greek memorization to the mix, especially of passages with difficult words in context (though it’s hard to pick the right passages for that).

Leave a reply