- A day for trying to memorise 50+ verbs and their principal parts.
- A day for realising you've forgotten more Greek vocabulary than you thought possible.
- A day for subjunctives, perfects, articular infinitives and participles of attendant circumstance.
1. Knowing Greek means I can access, understand and evaluate the more technical commentaries on the market.
2. Knowing Greek means I am no longer a victim to those who do know Greek and use it for their wily purposes (I can make a measured assessment when someone 'pulls Greek' to try and prove a point).
3. Knowing Greek means I am more likely to spot the nuances even in english translations of the New Testament and understand the translation choices they've made (why do/don't they translate a particular phrase in a particular way etc.).
4. Knowing Greek should help me spot the particular emphases and stylistic properties of the different NT authors (e.g. what are Paul's favourite words and why?) and the different NT books (e.g. what phrases/grammatical constructions keep cropping up in Hebrews) in ways that english translations simply cannot.
5. Knowing Greek was apparently one of the boosts to the Reformation (studying Romans in Greek helped Martin Luther rediscover the gospel) and the achievements of the Puritan century and a half that followed.
And, in my view, the clincher...
6. Knowing Greek makes sense given the reality of a personal walk with the Lord. If I were married to someone from Estonia, you can bet I'd make the effort to learn Estonian, even if my wife spoke great english, simply because there would be a level of understanding my wife that would be unavailable to me except in Estonian, given that her thought patterns, humour etc. would all be shaped by that particular language. In the same way, although God does not 'speak Greek' in the same way (it's not his 'native tongue' - I don't think all the business of heaven is conducted in 1st century AD Greek), in a very real way God does 'speak Greek' - he has chosen to use Greek, with all its particularities, idioms, peculiarities and thought patterns, for his written revelation of himself.
Conclusion - Knowing Greek is by no means an essential for gospel ministry (but then again, the absolute bare essentials are really very few). That said, the real advantages are many. As in all things the issue is not 'what is the bare minimum on which I can get by in serving God?' but 'how far can I reasonably go in serving God?' - we should strive for godly excellence not mere survival. Since I am somebody who can do foreign language learning I should learn Greek since, whatever the trials along the way, it will be worth it.
Rats, that means away from the computer and back to the books...