Thursday, February 25, 2010

To Mongolia

We fly out today at 9pm. 21hrs later we should be arriving in Ulaanbaatar.

If you're interested in our Mongolia travels, be sure to keep an eye on our other blog:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The passing of Hans Henning Ørberg

As I open up my laptop this morning to review news, blogs, and emails, I am saddened to read of the passing of Hans Henning Ørberg, 1920-2010. You may read a brief bio at wikipedia.

In my own opinion, Ørberg's Lingua Latina per se Illustrata will remain one of the twentieth century's enduring pedagogical contributions in Latin. Nothing is as useful, against a whole tide, for the instruction of Latin as a living language, and to overturn the many faults of grammar-translation.

Personally, coming to Ørberg's books after 3 or 4 years of university Latin, having struggled mightily year after year to stay up after my theology classes, translating my way through high literary text after text, reading LL transformed my ability and passion for Latin. For this, I remain truly grateful.

And so may the work of his life long endure, and vale, Hans, requiescat in pace.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A few more reflections on reading Chrysostom's Greek

Today I finished my 8th homily. I've worked out that I can translate roughly 500 Greek words an hour. That includes annotating a Greek text with footnotes for vocabulary and forms I didn't recognise or thought I might need help on later, and typing up a translation. I could probably read Chrysostom's greek a lot faster, but I'd lose a lot more comprehension. I've been working away with the NFPF sitting open next to me, which is more blessing than curse at this stage.

There's no doubt that it short-circuits some of my own thinking and Greek-ing. That's a downside - I'd be getting more from the Greek learning process without a translation. But, the loss of an existing translation would lead to more than a little confusion on my part: often I don't get from the Greek the right senses of words, or I just can't work out how things are constructed. The existing translation let's me understand what's going on in the Greek, thus rendering both the meaning and the constructions clear. I think in the long run that that is more valuable.

In exchange I make myself continue on with some solid Greek work in the mornings: reading Greek straight, doing English-to-Greek translation, and working on Kendrick's Greek Ollendorf, Buth's Koine materials, and Rico's Polis course. So I'm working hard to continue to internalise Greek, and figuring that will pay off in the longer run.

Things Chrysostom is teaching me:
- I need to do some work on the broad range of meaning attached to some very common verbs in Greek.
- I need to work harder with -mi verbs, to get to know them inside and out
- My vocabulary is awesome for the NT, but miniscule next to Chrysostom! I suspect this is an inevitable fact of extra-NT reading. Solution: keep reading and learning.

I should be able to knock over 2 more homilies by next Wednesday, which is good, since we are flying to Mongolia on Thursday 25th.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Research Progress

For the last week and a half I've been studying full-time. Like, proper full-time. Due to my unemployedness, (I suspect many would prefer the word 'unemployment', but the nuance feels different), I've gone full-time for (hopefully) the first semester of this year.

So they gave me a desk (and then charged me $50 if I wanted access in February because "college doesn't officially start until March"), and now I travel the 1.5 hrs into college of a morning, to arrive by 8am, and travel home another 1.5 hrs, to get home by 6pm. It's a little exhausting to be honest. 3 good things help: an hour over at the gym each day, listening to various language audios on the train, and a skateboard.

I've been making steady, if not excellent, progress through Chrysostom. I think I'm on my 7th homily, and I'm only really hoping for 10 at this stage. That's ten read and translated from the Greek. I'll work over the rest in English and consult the Greek for any particularly interesting or relevant passages.

The Greek is not overly difficult. I couldn't read it straight. Even with a quick look at LSJ, I'm often unsure of the sense in which he uses a word. The NPNF translation makes things a lot easier, though I sometimes worry about its influence on me.

Three very interesting passages in the last few days. The first was Chrysostom diverting a little to talk about how one needs to consider the thoughts of Jesus' interlocutors, if one is to understand Jesus' own discourse properly. Very much an awareness of original setting, etc.. The second had to do with a matter of punctuation in the text, where Chrysostom diverges from modern editions and commentators, and explains 'our' reading as being unacceptable because it leads to theological problems of a trinitarian nature (Chrysostom in fact uses Paul of Samosata as his foil for the alternate reading). The third and last is when late in John 10, Chrysostom goes on a long digression about women having greater opportunity for contemplation, since they stay at home, and their power over their husbands, and what makes a virtuous wife, etc..

All of which it would be good for me to tidy up and post here.

In other news, we fly out to Mongolia in 16 days. We don't know much Mongolian either. It will be an experience, one way or the other! Hoping it's a good one and we'll be heading back in 2011 for the long-term.