Sunday, March 16, 2014

Approaches to grammar teaching as a spectrum

There are a lot of approaches to teaching 'grammar' for a second language. In this post I outline X number of positions that roughly lie along a spectrum

1. No grammar, pure induction

This would be the approach that teaches entirely in the target language, and avoids trying to draw any attention to grammatical features per se. A course or instructor may well be designing their course with all sorts of grammar in the background, but the main idea is to avoid any mention of it, and trust that the students will learn what things "sound/read correctly" by induction and exposure. Like many native speakers, they may become fluent speakers who cannot explain the grammar of the language (as, for instance, many English speakers are hopeless when confronted with ESL students' grammar questions)

2. Target language, minimal grammar

This approach involves instruction primarily in the target through communicative or similar methods, but features ad-hoc, "pop-up", or minimal grammar, as needed, and *taught in the target language*. The main goal is still communicative competency, but the value of pointing out grammar is seen and valued, while still practiced in the target language.

3. Target language, explicit grammar

A development of approach 2, this approach involves not only teaching the language communicatively, but teaching a full-orbed "grammar" of the language to students *still in the target language*. While approach 2 sees grammar as part of a means to an end, approach 3 sees ability to discourse *about the language in the language* as part of the goal.

4. Native language, minimal grammar

Similar to approach 2, but differing in that the teacher will revert back to the students' native language to explain grammar concepts. Such explanations are kept to a minimum, and designed to clarify quickly and accurately things that might be difficult in the target language.

5. Native language, post-inductive explicit grammar

Students are exposed first to native language material, generally designed to develop their abilities, and then are taught extensively and explicitly the grammar that the new material contains, in their native language. They may then review the target language content, with greater understanding from the explicit grammar. This is the approach taken in "inductive reading courses" when applied to classical languages.

6. Native language, deductive explicit grammar

This is the reverse order to 5, and in classical languages is exemplified by "grammar first, exercises second" textbooks of a more traditional mode. Grammar is taught explicitly, and predominantly, and then applied to the target language. Results with this method seem to involve students with strong knowledge of a target language's grammar, while often failing to have adequate communicative skills in that language

7. Native language, explicit grammar without target language instruction

This approach I would represent as "linguistic analysis without L2 acquisition". The main goal is to study or learn the linguistic structures of a language, not to acquire it in an active sense at all. Therefore all instruction is done in the native language, and provides a comprehensive analysis of a target language, with only examples and data sets presented in the target language.


Personally I favour an approach like number 3 for classical languages, since my goal is to provide an ability to engage in meta-discourse about texts, and explicit knowledge of grammar will aid that. If a student's goal is primarily communication/competency, for instance in a modern language, I would shift more towards approach 2.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Grammar excerpt from Greek Ørberg chapter 8

I'm just typing up the grammar section for Chapter 8, and thought I would share an excerpt from the other end of the chapter, to see what it's like to try and demonstrate Greek grammar in Greek.

Pronouns          αἱ ἀντωνυμίαι

Α             Ἀρσενικόν

τίς τὸν θύλακον φέρει; δοῦλος τὸν θύλακον φέρει. τίς δοῦλος; δοῦλος ὃς τὸν θύλακον φέρει Πάτροκλύς ἐστιν. ὅδε δοῦλος τὸν θύλακον φέρει. ἐκεῖνος ἐστιν δοῦλος ὃς τὸν θύλακον φέρει. αὐτὸς τὸν θυλάκον φέρει.

Δημοσθένης τὸν δοῦλον καλεῖ. τίνα δοῦλον; δοῦλος ὃν Δημοσθένης καλεῖ ἐστι Πάρτοκλυς. Δημοσθένης τὸνδε δοῦλον καλεῖ. ἐκεῖνον τὸν δοῦλον Δημοσθένης καλεῖ. αὐτὸν Δημοσθένης καλεῖ.

Δημοσθένης κύριος τοῦ δούλου ἐστίν. τίνος δούλου; Πάτροκλύς ἐστιν δοῦλος οὗ κύριος Δημοσθένης ἐστίν. Δημοσθένης ἐστίν κύριος τοῦδε δούλου. κύριος ἐκείνου τοῦ δούλου ἐστὶ Δημοσθένης. αὐτοῦ Δημοσθένης κυρίου ἐστίν

Δημοσθένης τῷ δούλῳ μῆλον δίδωσιν. τίνι δούλῳ; δοῦλος Δημοσθένης τὸ μῆλον δίδωσίν ἐστι Πάτροκλυς. Δημοσθένης τῷδε δούλῳ τὸ μῆλον δίδωσιν. κύριος ἐκείνῳ τῷ δούλῳ τὸ μῆλον δίδωσιν. αὐτῷ Δημοσθένης μῆλον δίδωσιν.

τίνες τοὺς θυλάκους φέρουσιν; οἱ δοῦλοι τοὺς θυλάκους φέρουσιν. τίνες δοῦλοι; οἱ δοῦλοι οἳ τοὺς θυλάκους φέρουσίν εἰσίν Πάτροκλυς καὶ Νέστωρ. οἵδε δοῦλοι τοὺς θυλάκους φέρουσιν. ἐκεῖνοι οἱ δοῦλοί εἰσιν οἳ τοὺς θυλάκους φέρουσιν. αὐτοὶ τοὺς θυλάκους φέρουσιν.

Δημοσθένης τὸυς δούλους καλεῖ. τίνας δούλους; οἱ δοῦλοι οὓς Δημοσθένης καλεῖ εἰσι Πάρτοκλυς καὶ Νέστωρ. Δημοσθένης τοὺσδε δούλους καλεῖ. ἐκείνους τοὺς δούλους Δημοσθένης καλεῖ. αὐτοὺς Δημοσθένης καλεῖ.

Δημοσθένης κύριους τῶν δούλων ἐστίν. τίνων δούλων; Πάτροκλυς καὶ Νέστωρ εἰσίν ὧν κύριος Δημοσθένης ἐστίν. Δημοσθένης ἐστὶν κύριος τῶνδε δούλων. κύριος ἐκείνων τῶν δούλων ἐστὶ Δημοσθένης. αὐτῶν Δημοσθένης κύριός ἐστιν.

Δηομσθένης τοῖς δούλοις μῆλα δίδωσιν. τίσι δούλοις; οἱ δούλοι οἷς Δημοσθένης τὰ μῆλα δίδωσίν εἰσι Πάτροκλυς καὶ Νέστωρ. Δημοσθένης τοῖσδε δούλοις τὰ μῆλα δίδωσιν. κύριος ἐκείνοις τοῖς δούλοις τὰ μῆλα δίδωσιν. αὐτοῖς Δημοσθένης μῆλα δίδωσιν.

τίς, τίνα, τίνος, τίνι                                     τίνες, τίνας, τίνων, τίσι(ν)
ὅδε, τόνδε, τοῦδε, τῷδε                             οἵδε, τούσδε, τῶνδε, τοῖσδε
ἐκεῖνος, ον, ου, ῳ                                      ἐκεῖνοι, ους, ων, οις

αὐτός, όν, οῦ, ῷ                                         αὐτοί, ους, ων, οις



Also, here are some of the grammar terms in this chapter:
αἱ ἐρωτηματικαὶ ἀντωνυμίαι (τίς, κτλ.)

αἱ ἐπὶ τῷ τριτῷ πρωσόπῳ ἀντωνυμίαι (αὐτός, κτλ.)
αἱ δεικτικαὶ ἀντωνυμίαι (ὅδε, κτλ.)

αἱ ἐγγὺς δεικτικαὶ ἀντωνυμίαι (οὗτος, κτλ.)
αἱ πόρρω δεικτικαὶ ἀντωνυμίαι (ἐκεῖνος, κτλ.)



As always, corrections and comments welcome.

Communicative Approaches to Latin and Greek: Who is doing what?

In this post I am simply offer a compilation of who, what, where in terms of these languages and what I know is happening. My knowledge of these courses and institutions varies from having some personal contact, to having read and used materials, to having taken some of their offerings. I would be happy to add to this list or provide succinct but further details from any of these providers, if they would care to comment/contact me.

Greek

Conversational Koine Institute

This is largely the work of Michael Halcomb, working out of Kentucky. He offers online courses that consist of 1 hour a week for 10 weeks, teaching in a communicative method through video conference calling. The core curriculum moves through 5 levels of classes, and some academic credit is available through Asbury Theological Seminary. Also has produced a number of print resources. CKI also offers some immersion type events, typically over a weekend period, as well as Greek Readings classes.

Biblical Language Center

This is the brainchild of Randall Buth, and covers both Koine and Biblical Hebrew. Primarily it runs intensive courses in Israel, but this has expanded to some North American offerings, and produces books with accomapnying audio that can be used either in conjunction with the courses or for independent study.

Polis Institute

Based in Jerusalem, courses include Koine Greek and Biblical Hebrew. The Greek is taught by or under the direction of Prof. Christophe Rico, who has also produced the Polis Method including at least 1, with 2 more forthcoming, textbooks aimed at conversational method teaching. Summer coursese are offered in Rome, Barcelona, Florida, and Jerusalem.

Accademia Vivarium Novum

The 'big name' associated here is Luigi Miraglia. The Accademia offers a range of full-year courses, as well as a 2 month summer intensive, focusing on active methods of learning both Latin and Ancient Greek, alongside a curriculum based in true Humanist ideals and a broad reading in ancient and neo-Latin literature.

Academy of Classical Languages

I don't know anything about this outfit beyond just stumbling upon them on the internet, but they are offering web-conferencing lessons using a TPRS approach, with Biblical and Classical Greek, as well as Latin. Course materials include Athenaze, Randal Buth's Living Koine materials, and Ørberg's Lingua Latina.

As per the comments section below, the classes in Greek use a restored pronunciation, and are structured month by month as blocks of 4 x 50 min lessons.

Daniel Streett

Is Associate Professor of Greek and New Testament at Criswell College. He teaches some Greek with a communicative approach, and blogs about Greek pedagogy, among other things.

ADDISCO Education

Netherlands based, and the website is currently in Dutch, but Casper Porton is running both classes in Latin and Greek, as well as training for teachers in living language teaching methodologies.

Latin 

The Association for Latin Teaching (ARLT)
This Association was founded by the famous (mildly) WHD Rouse for the reform of Latin teaching and especially the Direct Method. That's no longer quite the main purpose, but this is probably the main Association in England of interest for active Latin proponents.

SALVI (Septentrionale Americanum Latinitatis Vivae Institutum)
aka North American Institute for Living Latin Studies

A US based association dedicated to communicative approaches. In terms of educational programs, it runs a number of weekend immersions, and some newer 4-5 day immersion workshops. Has had, recently, some connection with WAYK, which see below.

Institute of Latin Studies

Based at the University of Kentucky, this is where Tunberg and Minkova are based, among others. They offer a Graduate Certificate that focuses on active command of Latin along with exposure to Latin literature.

Where are your Keys

WAYK isn't really in the Latin education game, but US based Latin teachers interested in communicative methods, especially TPR, TPRS, etc., have had some involvement in applying WAYK to Latin, including a workshop (or more than one?) with Evan Gardner. I've had some personal involvement with WAYK just in terms of learning it online and applying it in some teaching situations. So that's why I mention it here.


Monday, March 10, 2014

A brief excerpt from the Greek Ørberg, chapter 8

ὄγδοος λόγος· καπηλεῖον λληνικόν

ἱδοὺ, καπηλεῖον Ἑλληνικόν, ἐν σφραγίδες καὶ μαργαρίται πολλοὶ εἰσίν. τίνος ἔστιν τοῦτο τὸ καπηλεῖον; Θρασσύλου ἐστίν. Θρασσύλος τὸ καπηλεῖον τοῦτο ἔχει. ὃς καπηλεῖον ἔχει κάπηλός ἐστιν. Θρασσύλος ἐστὶ κάπηλος Ἑλληνικὸς ὃς σφραγίδας καὶ μαργαρίτας πωλεῖ. ἄλλοι κάπηλοι τὰς βίβλους πωλεῖ, ἄλλοι μῆλα καὶ ἄπια, ἄλλοι δὲ ῥόδα τε καὶ κρῖνα.

αἱ σφραγίδες καὶ ο μαργαρίται εἰσὶ κόσμοι. δακτύλιος μετὰ σφραγίσιν ἐστὶ κόσμος καλός. καὶ ἔτι ὅρμος σὺν μαργαρίταις κόσμος ἐστίν. ὅρμος ἄνευ μαργαρίτων οὔκ ἐστι κόσμος!

πολλαὶ αἱ γυναῖκες αἳ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ταύτῃ βαίνουσιν πρὸ καπηλείου τοῦ Θρασσύλου ἵστανται, γυναῖκες γὰρ κόσμοις ἥδονται. αὕται αἳ μεγὰ ἀργύιον ἔχουσι πολλοὺς κόσμους ὠνοῦνται. αἳ οὐδὲν μικρὸν ἀργύριον ἔχουσι κόσμους βλέπουσι μόνον, οὐκ ὠνοῦνται. καὶ ἄνδρες πολλοὶ πρὸς τοῦτο τὸ καπηλεῖον πρόσπορεύονται. οἳ μεγὰ ἀργύριον ἔχουσι κόσμους καὶ γυναῖξι διδόασιν· ἄλλοι δὲ αὖθις ἀπέρχονται. αἱ γυναῖκες ὧν οἱ ἄνδρες μεγὰ ἀργύριον ἔχουσι πολλοὶ οἱ κόσμοι ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνδρῶν ἑαυτῶν λαμβάνουσιν.




Feel free to add a correction or question in the comments. This is from the first draft of this chapter, so it's bound to have mistakes.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

If we took Biblical Language education seriously, and the reasons we don't

Of course, this is just another rant, some of my regular readers can skip it.

This video popped up on my feeds lately, and of course I heartily agree with Van Pelt. However most schools are getting this wrong, and most students don't know any better, and this isn't going to change quickly. Here are some of the myths we keep endorsing.

Myth #1: Grammar Translation is the way to mastering biblical languages.

Well, this would be great except that many people master the grammar of biblical languages and can't string half a sentence together. This doesn't mean they don't know anything, but it is really, really odd that we treat these languages as somehow 'different' to living languages. If we really wanted to do that we should teach students linguistics and then let them apply that to biblical languages, instead grammar translation is kind of an unhappy medium burdened with pedagogical methods that aren't as old as most of us think they are. (For the record, I think teaching linguistics and applying it would be great. Let's do more of that, but I don't think it's an either/or with my other proposals).

Myth #2: Communicative methods will get us where we want.

It's pretty obvious that I think we need to engage in an absolute revolution in how we teach languages, and embrace communicative methods wholeheartedly. However, we need to be aware that this in and of itself doesn't get us where we want. Yes, I want to and I want my students to be able to order a skim decaf cappuccino with carob sprinkles in Koine. Actually I don't because that drink is an abomination that causes desolation and no-one should order it, but I do think it should be hypothetically possible to do so. Yet if that's all we achieve, we have missed our goal. Why did we ever start dissecting the biblical languages in the first place? To analyse the Scriptures for better and precise understanding. That's only going to come if we not only understand the languages, but can talk about them. We need meta-language.

Myth #3: Communicative methods won't get us where we want.

This is the flipside of number 2. There's nothing inherent about communicative methods that means you can't teach explicit grammar. It's just pedagogically sounder to teach explicit grammar in the target language. I long to see Latin students discuss Latin grammar in Latin, Koine students discuss Koine grammar in Koine. Suddenly you haven't given up on grammar, though you have given up on 'translation' as a means to get there, and you're spending your class time in your target language facilitating second language acquisition. This should be win-win, this should be a no-brainer.

Myth #4: The problem is lack of hard work.

I think this is a relic of the old-schoolers who put in hours after hours following a G-T method and became really could at it. You know, in one sense it works. Spend enough hours (a lot) doing grammar-translation, you'll get really comfortable with it.

However this attitude basically comes down to "We're going to give you 1, 2, 3 hours of class a week, but you need to pour in X hours of individual study memorising, rote-learning, pouring over books". Frankly, this is mostly inefficient. I say this as someone who did do a lot of rote-memorisation of vocab and got great benefit from it. I also say it as someone who has a range of mastery across at least 5 languages. There are better uses for students' time and just telling them to work harder is not the solution. Plenty of them are working plenty hard and we need to help them learn smarter.

Myth #5: We can keep doing what we've been doing.

I didn't quite know how to phrase this. It kind of relates to 4. What I really want to say is this, Getting serious about increasing the quality of biblical language education requires a level of institutional and personal backbone most seminaries lack. You actually need to say:
- Languages are not optional here
- We aren't going to let you fail if you turn up and make an effort (if you do what it takes, we'll do what it takes)
- 3 hours class for a year isn't going to get you to Intermediate.

I personally think there are numerous problems with the FSI estimations of hours to reach "General Proficiency" (this is equivalent to Superior on the ACTFL, which would be C2 on the CEFR), but at the same time let's just take it at face value for a moment: 1100 hours to reach that level for a language like modern Greek or Hebrew. They mean contact hours. If you were doing a 3 hour week Biblical language course, and let's say you have a 16 week semester, that's 11 years. No wonder most graduates don't keep up their languages, don't use them, and aren't sure of their value.


A brief introduction to doing history as a believer

We're just one week away from spring break here, and after the break I'll be teaching a 32 hour course on the first thousand years of Church History. Just as my 1 Peter class has given me some impetus to write up exegetical notes, I thought it would be good to write a brief primer in the history field as well. As such, starting in April you should get some regular posts charting our way from the birth of Jesus through to the filioque controversy and East-West schism.

So, to whet your appetite, here are some introductory thoughts on approaching history as a Christian.

Introduction

Over the next 8 weeks we are going to look together at 1000 years of history. We are going to be thinking about this material as both believers, and historians. As historians we are seeking to understand the past, to see cause and effect, to read carefully the evidence that is there, and to make reasoned and logical conclusions. History is a disciple that is concerned with seeking and understanding truth, which is likewise a value that we uphold as believers. As believers we worship the God who is truth and who speaks truly. We also believe that God is the Lord of History, the Beginning and the End, who rules all things by his will. So we are also seeking to understand how God is at work in history. Yet, unlike the authors of Scripture, we are not divinely inspired, and so our conclusions will be tentative. We should be hesitant to identify any particular event or movement as “the work of God” in a direct way, while at the same time recognising that it is all the work of God.

One of the dangers for everyone who does history is bias. As Christians we may be subject to some particular forms of bias. We may be more credulous, accepting things that are favourable to Christianity on less evidence than others. We may prefer to avoid complex issues when spiritual matters are mixed with political and ‘worldly’ affairs. We may be tempted to downplay moral and other failures of past believers, instead focusing on their achievements and successes. In all these things we do a disservice to the God of truth. Historians who hold other viewpoints, other religious ideas or atheistic ideas, will also have their biases. Our commitment is to seek truth without this kind of bias, or at least minimising it, so that it is real truth and so that it will stand the test of scrutiny.

And yet, history for us should be a spiritual discipline as well. We are convinced that in reading the book of history we read the book of God’s deeds in the world, and especially through the church. We are brought into communion with brothers and sisters who lived in far and strange times and places. We meet fathers and mothers who loved God, who struggled with sin, who tried to understand the deep things of the Scriptures, and who have paved the way for us today.


So in doing history we are engaged in a theological expression of our unity in Christ across time and space, we are investigating the development of the Church in the world, we are conversing with our ancestors, we are crossing cultures, we are witnesses to those who contended for the Faith, we are humbled as we see some go astray, and we are amazed at God’s Kingdom assailing the gates of Hades.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

What's good about Logos, and how I use it

Back in late 2012 I wrote a post complaining about Logos, particularly about some of their marketing and purchasing options. It is the third most read post on my blog. You can take a guess at what the 2nd most read post is if you like. Anyway, I promised that I would write a positive post about what I do like about Logos, and here, 16 months later, it is.

I live and work as an ex-patriate, in a land-locked country, and so essentially my laptop is my office and its my library. I did bring a lot of books with me, but compared to the books I left behind it is but a fraction. So as I look across at my copy of Logos 5 now, this is how it's set up: I have 6 different versions of the Bible open across 4 languages. Having ready access to standard editions of original language texts is crucial for me. Particularly my Hebrew is not strong, so I rely further on the integration of BDB and other look ups.

I also have a number of commentaries open. Buying commentaries in sets/series has been one of the big advantages of Logos over other software. I have 5 separate commentaries setting in windows across 4 different Biblical books, all of which I am teaching from regularly.

In addition to commentaries, I tend to purchase significant volumes on other topics. For example, I have been teaching a course on New Testament Theology, and so Schreiner's 1.5kg "New Testament Theology" is sitting open, because who wants to pack on of those in their suitcase.

Having usable versions of the ANF/NPNF fathers and other ancient texts is also invaluable

Other resources I leave sitting open include the electronic version of Liddell-Scott-Jones, the premiere Greek-English lexicon. I use this most days. Runge's "Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament" which I find invaluable for its analysis and style. A copy of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which I compare with when reading a Gaelic version of the same.

For me, the great strengths of Logos are:
* Convenience and 'weight' of a vast electronic library
* Bundling of commentaries into relatively affordable sets
* Integration of original language texts and tools to analyse them
* A fairly good interface that lets me work with all these at once.

No, Logos don't pay me anything for writing about them. Especially after the 2012 post! I still find their marketing and purchasing frustrating, but I love [most of] their products.

Monday, March 03, 2014

1 Peter 1:13-21 Exegetical Notes

Text


13 Διὸ ἀναζωσάμενοι τὰς ὀσφύας τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν, νήφοντες τελείως, ἐλπίσατε ἐπὶ τὴν φερομένην ὑμῖν χάριν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 14 ὡς τέκνα ὑπακοῆς, μὴ συσχηματιζόμενοι ταῖς πρότερον ἐν τῇ ἀγνοίᾳ ὑμῶν ἐπιθυμίαις, 15 ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸν καλέσαντα ὑμᾶς ἅγιον καὶ αὐτοὶ ἅγιοι ἐν πάσῃ ἀναστροφῇ γενήθητε, 16 διότι γέγραπται ὅτι Ἅγιοι ἔσεσθε, ὅτι ἐγὼ ἅγιος.
17 Καὶ εἰ πατέρα ἐπικαλεῖσθε τὸν ἀπροσωπολήμπτως κρίνοντα κατὰ τὸ ἑκάστου ἔργον, ἐν φόβῳ τὸν τῆς παροικίας ὑμῶν χρόνον ἀναστράφητε· 18 εἰδότες ὅτι οὐ φθαρτοῖς, ἀργυρίῳ χρυσίῳ, ἐλυτρώθητε ἐκ τῆς ματαίας ὑμῶν ἀναστροφῆς πατροπαραδότου, 19 ἀλλὰ τιμίῳ αἵματι ὡς ἀμνοῦ ἀμώμου καὶ ἀσπίλου Χριστοῦ, 20 προεγνωσμένου μὲν πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, φανερωθέντος δὲ ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων διʼ ὑμᾶς 21 τοὺς διʼ αὐτοῦ πιστοὺς εἰς θεὸν τὸν ἐγείραντα αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν καὶ δόξαν αὐτῷ δόντα, ὥστε τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν καὶ ἐλπίδα εἶναι εἰς θεόν.

Critical

v19-20 Metzger notes the presence of a whole section added in several Latin mss. It is extremely unlikely to be original
v21 πιστούς / πιστεύοντας / πιστεύσαντας Although the 2nd option is extremely common, it seems that the first option would be ‘corrected’ to the far more common second way of expressing this idea.
v22 ἀληθείας / ἀληθείας διὰ πνεύματος / πίστωες διὰ πνεύματος The addition of an explanatory phrase seems the best way to account for the longer versions.

Translation

Wherefore, girding up the loins of your understanding, being self-controlled, completely hope in the grace that is being brought to you in the revelation of Jesus Christ. As children of obedience, [do] not  [be] conformed to the desires in your former ignorance, but according to the holy one that called you, you also become holy in every way of life, since it is written “Be holy, because I am holy.”

And if you call upon the father that judges impartially according to each one’s work, conduct the time of your sojourning in fear: knowing that not with perishable things, silver or gold, were you redeemed from your futile ancestral way of life, but by the precious blood as of an unblemished and faultless lamb , Christ, foreknown before the foundation of the cosmos, revealed in the last of times for the sake of you, who believe through him in God that raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are unto God.

Commentary

In 1:13 Peter moves from the praise of God for his sweeping majestic work in Christ, to application of these spiritual truths in exhortation to holiness and obedience. The particle διό picks up the whole train of thought of vv3-12 and presents them as the basis for exhortation. This first verse contains two participles, the second concretising the first, which adverbially modify the main imperative. Firstly, “girding up the loins of your minds” provides a vivid picture of intentional preparation for serious exertion, but in the realm of thinking. This is further explained by “being completely self-controlled”, an attitude of mental self-awareness and self-control that restrains passions and excess. These two ideas feed into the main idea “hope in the grace”, a thought that draws from the good news presented in vv3-12. This grace is further expanded as that which comes to them (i.e. the grace of the Gospel preached to them and so present in their lives) and the repetition from v7 of “at the revelation of Jesus Christ”, as their hope continues to hold an eschatological focus.
It is unclear whether the adverb “completely” should modify the preceding participle or the following verb; in my translation I have placed it with the verb. Here the idea is of a total and utter placing of dependence and assurance in the grace that has already come, as the basis for future hope also.

Verse 14 introduces a comparison that begins of this minor section (14-16). He first depicts them as “children of obedience”, a genitive construction that simply means “obedient children”. What follows in the second half of 14 is a negative imperative framed with a participle. It is not so much that it is an imperative grammatically, so much as that it expresses “not doing this” in preparation for a contrast in v15. The readers are to avoid conformity to “desires” or “passions” which are qualified as “former” (i.e. part and parcel of their former way of life) and “in your ignorance”, referring to their former state of not knowing God, his gospel, or his word.

Verse 15 opens with the contrastive ἀλλά followed by a qualifying prepositional phrase that sets up the holiness of the one that called you, i.e. God, as the standard for which the readers also ought to be holy, “in [their] whole way of life.” What Peter has in mind is a holiness that corresponds to God’s character and is all-encompassing. Verse 16 then connects this with the Old Testament with a quotation that directly cites Leviticus 19:2 LXX, with echoes of Lev 11:44, 20:7-8, 20:26.

Verse 17 opens up a further section of exhortation, a long sentence that runs through to the end of 21, and all predicated on the conditional “If you call upon [the] Father”. That Peter’s addressees have been born again, adopted, and are to live as “obedient children” presupposes that this is indeed what they do, and so the implications that Peter outlines flow from this. “Father” is qualified by being “the [one] that judges impartially according to each person’s deed[s]”. God’s impartial judgment removes any temptation to indulge in licence or seek to use the new relationship with God for moral privileges. Instead believers are to “conduct the time of their sojourning in fear”. Peter makes considerable use of ἀναστροφή and cognates in this section. The reference to time and sojourning connects to verse 1 and a persistent theme in the letter: the dual ‘foreigner’ status of believers as socio-historical condition and theological situation.

Verse 18 is an adverbial participial clause that attaches back to the main imperative in v17, “Since you know that”. Just as Peter has contrasted the genuineness of their faith back in 1:7 with gold, so too now he draws a comparison with the means of their redemption. He also picks up the language of “mortal” which he has used in v4. Their redemption, or purchased freedom from slavery, was not effected by silver or gold. The resolution of this contrast is held off to verse 19, while in verse 18b we are told what this redemption is from: “your foolish ancestral way of life”. The adjective πατρπαραδότου may be seen as a specific reference to either Gentile-background or Jewish-background believers, but neither is necessarily in view. Van Unnik (1969) establishes that this ancestral handing-down was viewed as the basis of stable society in both Jewish and Hellenistic cultures at the time. This is part of Christianity’s PR problem – it is novel, not ancient, in its contemporaries’ eyes. Peter radically employs “ancestral” with “foolish”, a direct reversal of the received norms.

Verse 19 is resumptive and provides the positive contrast with 18a, “but with the precious blood”. That blood that is the instrumental ‘payment’ of redemption is not further developed into any analogy or theory of redemption here (i.e. to whom it was paid), but is mapped out instead in terms of Christ as unblemished and spotless lamb. The thought here is covenantal and sacrificial. Christ is further the subject of description in verse 20, “foreknown before the foundation of the world”. The thought here connects with the foreknowledge of God the Father in verse 1 as applied to believers, so now to the economic plan of salvation. And just as the logic of verse 1 moves from the past to the present reality of believers, so too does verse 20 move from God’s foreknowledge to the manifestation of Christ “in the last of times for you”; Peter understands the ‘now’ to be the eschatological end times.


The final verse of this section, 21, is dependent upon the preceding ὑμᾶς, with the first phrase “those who are faithful through him unto God”. The choice of πιστούς rather than πιστεύοντες seems odd, which is part of the internal evidence for preferring this reading, as it nominalises a typically verbal idea elsewhere. The believers’ faith and fidelity are through Christ and unto God, with God further describes at the one who both “raised him from the dead” and “gave him glory”. This two actions should be understood as related. God’s raising of Christ is itself glorifying, but is also the precedent to Christ’s exaltation, as seen also in the Pauline literature. The result is that both faith and hope, twin themes and concepts in the early part of the letter, are in God [himself]. There is no division between the faith that is in Christ and the hope that is in God, or vice versa, but believers’ ultimate hopes and so faith reside in the Resurrector of the Lord Jesus.