In NT Greek Exegesis I this semester we are working through the Epistle to the Colossians. This is my favorite course of the semester not only because of what happens in the classroom, but also because of what preparation entails. Don’t get me wrong — I love biblical and systematic theology. But my greatest academic affection has always been for studying the New Testament, and from my earliest days as a Christian I was inductively studying books of the NT verse-by-verse, consulting choice commentaries after my own studies.
Since I’m a neophyte when it comes to Koine Greek and the Greek New Testament, reading, translating, and attempting to exegete the text is still a new and exciting (albeit at times difficult and frustrating) experience. As I prepare the text for each class session, I have found my Logos library to be an invaluable resource. I’d like to briefly share what resources I’m using and how I’m studying because it might be helpful both for those taking an exegesis course (whether in Colossians or a different section of the NT) as well as those who have had Greek in the past and would like to keep their Greek sharp as they study a book of the NT. A screenshot of my layout is below.
You can see that I have both the Passage Guide and the Exegetical Guide open in one section. In the other, I have my Bibles and commentaries; of course, you can choose your preferred translations and commentaries. After reading straight through the Greek text a few times, the first thing I do is note which words I do not know and incorporate them into my flashcard system; I love that I can just hover over the words and the glosses show up on the bottom of the screen. Then I go through the text again and parse. Here your specific approach can change depending on your facility with the language and what you need practice with. Because I don’t have much practice with Greek, at first I parsed every word. Then I only parsed forms that weren’t as obvious/familiar to me. Now, I pretty much only parse verbs. Logos is great for parsing practice because when you hover over a word you can immediately see the parsing, so you can check yourself as you go.
After parsing I translate the text and then read it in the NASB as a comparison because that is a fairly literal translation. I also have the ESV in my layout because 1) it’s my favorite translation and 2) it’s less literal and wooden than the NASB but is still a formal equivalence translation. Finally, I have the NIV as a colloquial translation. Specific versions can be chosen based on preference, but it’s good to consult several that cover the spectrum between formal and dynamic equivalence. Next, I attempt a syntax diagram and exegesis of the text.
Since as a newbie I’m not very good at syntax diagramming and exegesis yet, the most fun for me is in the last step: reading what others have to say. I first consult two Greek handbooks on Colossians (not in picture because I don’t own them in Logos): Constantine Campbell’s Baylor Handbook and Murray Harris’s volume in the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series. Then I read the section in three commentaries: Moo’s volume in the Pillar New Testament Commentary, Dunn’s in the New International Greek Testament Commentary series, and O’Brien’s in the Word Biblical Commentary series. All three of these are widely regarded as among the best commentaries on Colossians/Philemon.
For the purpose of regular study through the whole epistle I’ve capped myself at the resources I’ve described here, or else I’d need a week to study each verse! But for verses that are especially interesting as well as when I research for my exegetical paper, I’m consulting a host of other commentaries (such as F. F. Bruce’s volume in the New International Commentary on the New Testament) as well as making full use of the incredibly helpful Passage Guide and Exegetical Guide. I will probably blog on using those features at the end of the semester after writing my exegetical paper.