If you’re a seminary student struggling to learn Greek, this testimony from a fellow struggler may encourage you:
In my first year of Greek at Biola University, I nearly failed the subject. The professor, Dr. Harry Sturz, had compassion on me and gave me a passing grade. I took a different professor in second-year Greek. He gave us a battery of exams at the beginning of the semester. One exam each week. I failed the first exam. I failed the second exam. I failed the third exam. I failed the fourth exam, but it was a high F! And I got a D on the fifth exam. “Hey,” I thought, “I’m really getting this Greek thing down!”
The professor called me into his office and told me that I should check out of Greek. That was the wake-up call I needed. I went down to my dorm room, got on my knees, and confessed to the Lord that I had dragged his name through the mud. I reasoned that since I am in Christ and he is in me, he was failing Greek, too. And even though I was at a Christian school, I was soiling his reputation. I repented of my sin—the sin of mediocrity because I was surrounded by Christians, the sin of thinking that I did not need to do my best since I was a Christian.
I went back to the professor and asked for one more chance. He granted that to me. I ended up getting an A in the class both semesters. It still took me two more years of Greek at Biola before I even felt moderately comfortable with the language, but I had learned my lesson. Now, to be sure, my experience is not everyone’s. But, for me, learning Greek became a matter of spiritual discipline. And even though I was very sick in my fourth semester of Greek-so that I missed five and a half weeks of school-I still did well in the course.
I don’t consider myself good at languages, but I do consider myself a steward of the life that God has given to me. And I have never recovered from the impact that the Greek New Testament has made on my walk with Christ.
The author? Dan Wallace, who went on to write a standard intermediate textbook, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics.
(You can also read an interview I did with Professor Wallace back in 2008, where he recounts how a bizarre strain of viral encephalitis led to memory loss, with the result that he no longer knew Greek and had to reread his own grammar to learn it over again!)
The quote above is from Constantine Campbell’s Keep Your Greek: Strategies for Busy People, which looks like a very practical and down-to-earth motivational guide to retaining Greek.