This plan is designed for reading the Greek New Testament once per year. A minimum of first year Greek and vocabulary from a text such as Bill Mounce or Dave Black is needed in order to be able to follow, and it doesn’t hurt either to be an over-achiever in year one. Through this simple reading plan, your ability to read the Greek New Testament will increase dramatically. If your Greek is rusty, this will help you recover and sharpen your skills. You must be consistent and disciplined though in order to make positive strides and see lasting results. With a little each day you can accomplish much.
There are 260 chapters in the Greek New Testament. Of these, 74 chapters have 38 verses or more: Matt 5, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 21-27; Mark 1, 4-6, 8-10, 12, 14, 15; Luke 1-12, 18-24; John 1, 4-13, 18, 19; Acts 2, 5, 7-10, 13, 15, 16, 19-21, 27; Rom 8; 1 Cor 7, 14, 15; Heb 10, 11. To read the Greek New Testament in a year, read one chapter per day. Chapters that are 38 verses or longer should be divided and read over two days, splitting the chapters up according to a paragraph break around the middle. This plan yields a total of 334 (260 + 74) daily readings. It also allows you to take 31 days off each year; more on that later.
UBS Greek New Testament: A Reader’s Edition –This GNT is geared for reading large portions of the NT at one sitting. As such, it provides simple context glosses for all words occurring 30x or less, while also parsing the rare forms. Using this GNT will enable you to expand and stretch your vocabulary, while providing a more enjoyable reading experience as you will not have to “live” in the lexicon.
The New Exegetical & Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament – This book provides concise explanations of grammatical features that may not be immediately obvious to the reader. Occasionally it will refer to other works such as Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, BDAG, and others. This work is very accessible to those who have first year grammar and keep up with it.
TIPS FOR READING THE GNT
1. Read every day – Don’t skip days. Playing catch-up with Greek will not work when you’re behind. Read every single day, even on weekends, as this will help to reinforce the habit. When you have to take a day off, for whatever reason, use one of the 31 free days.
2. Try to pick a time limit for each day – say, 30 to 45 minutes or so depending on your reading style/speed. Don’t be a perfectionist, as this will cause you to grow discouraged and weary. Press on even when you don’t understand every construction or nuance. Even with the help of the Reader, you may still find yourself overwhelmed at times (I know I do). If you finish with some time to spare, and as your reading ability improves, you may choose to go back and look over the things that you didn’t understand in more detail.
3. Don’t use Bible software as your primary reading text. In other words, during your reading time, don’t read the GNT off the computer. Don’t even use it to get extra “helps” when you are hung up on something (i.e. parsing helps). Remember that eventually your goal is to be able to read without crutches. You cannot sight-read the GNT if you are frequently accustomed to using computer software such as Logos or Bibleworks to help with the smallest things. Remember, no one gets a handle on language who regularly uses crutches.
4. Read out loud – Hearing the words will improve your comprehension and retention. It will also encourage you to slow down and take in the meaning one word at a time. I cannot stress this one enough.
5. Keep a notebook and write down your exegetical observations, or note any difficulties or uncertainties that you would like to delve into further in the future. Of course this requires additional time; don’t be too detailed and picky.
6. By using the Reader’s Edition – You will not need to look up much rare vocabulary, since this will be provided in the footnotes. However it may still be a good idea to look up some words in BDAG (2nd or 3rd edition) from time to time, especially those which deal with rare usages or have theological significance.
7. Follow along in your copy of The New Linguistic & Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament. This book provides concise explanations of grammatical features that may not be immediately obvious to the reader. It is loaded with reference material throughout such as Wallace’s grammar and BDAG.
8. Try to start thinking in Greek – Yes, this really is possible! In the beginning you may start reading by attempting a wooden English translation in your head for each verse. That is okay. This should follow the word order and grammatical structure of the Greek as closely as possible. In time, try to move away from wooden translations and start processing as much as possible in Greek. Thinking in Greek is reading Greek!
9. Do not consult an English version too quickly when you encounter difficulty. Nevertheless, an English version like the ESV or NASB may be useful for pointing you in the right direction when you’re stuck. If you have to consult the English, always go back and work through the text in Greek afterward, but only do this as a last resort.
10. For encouragement and motivation – I highly suggest reading A.T. Robertson’s The Minister and His Greek New Testament. You can also read Quotes on the Biblical Languages, which is sure to be an inspiration to press on in the midst of discouragement.