It was all GREEK to me

by Terry 27 Replies latest jw friends

  • Terry

    Around 1976 I got the wild idea I'd like to learn Greek (for my study of the Christian Greek scriptures and to 'get to the bottom' of whether I was wasting my time being even a token Jehovah's Witness.) I would read the actual text and avoid my denomination's opinion commentaries, you see.

    I learned the characters in the Greek Alphabet rather quickly and started reading an INTERLINEAR (English/Greek) Bible aloud - practicing my enunciation.

    Who do I think I was kidding? Myself, I guess.
    I could actually read the text (without a clue in the world what I was saying, of course.)

    Being myself, naturally I was eager to show off my profound linguistic mastery of Greek.

    Where else to begin than the local Greek Restaurant in Redondo Beach, California!

    For my presentation, I had memorized The Lord's Prayer in Greek straight out of The Kingdom Interlinear Bible.

    I had an audience of 2 flesh and blood Greek restaurant owners, Basil and Nicos.

    Conversationally I dropped a hint here and there I was a student (self-taught) of Greek. Suddenly, Nicos was profoundly attentive!
    He called his brother over. Apparently Greeks take their language VERY SERIOUSLY - with extraordinary emotional pride!
    These guys really wanted to hear my recitation.
    Filled, as I was, with enormous confidence and a bit of swagger, I began reciting ....
    (Mind you - I had never actually HEARD Greek being spoken - I'd only read the dictionary pronunciation guides.)

    I imagined I'd sound rather scholarly - if not authentically partisan - man- on -the-street in my speechifying.

    Basil and Nicos listened intently - both slowly nodding ... following closely ... rapt attention all the way through.

    I finished without a hitch ...and awaited the inevitable applause
    and - likely FREE MEAL!!

    Basil looked at Nicos.
    Nicos peered back at Basil.
    Straightaway, they burst into laughter ...uproarious guffaws and belly laughs that went on and on ...

    Finally, panting for air, Basil shook his head and placed a hairy paw on my shoulder.
    "You must never do this again. No my friend, stick with English. If not for Greek's sake - for God's sake!"

    That pretty much ended my Greek scholarship.


    When telephone solicitors and bill collectors catch me with a phone call -- I immediately launch into a recitation of The Lord's Prayer in Greek (yes -mangled Greek).

    They soon sputter and hang up on me.

    That is some solace, I think you'll agree!
  • Prester John
    Prester John

    Great story!

    On a similar note, you always knew a bumpy ride was in store when a public speaker whipped his Interlinear out...

  • tiki

    Awesome! I recall a Greek brother who would explain things ..... It was fascinating and his translations did not particularly jive with the wt. They dfed him. He also wore a closely cropped beard which caused much angst.

  • nicolaou
    If not the free meal then I hope you at least got a free beer out of that Terry 😅
  • LoveUniHateExams

    It's interesting the similarities between the Greek and Cyrillic alphabets.

  • Anna Marina
    Anna Marina

    Hi Terry

    I too set about learning Greek. I loved it. I used a great little site I found in the earlish days of the internet. This is it.

    I did really well, so well I felt Bethel ought to know and develope a website like this one to help all the brother and sisters learn Greek and Hebrew.

    So off I went to London Bethel and asked someone influential. He didn't realise he knew me because I was speaking to him on the phone from reception and I hadn't introduced myself. I just launched into, "hi I am learning the Bible in Greek and Hebrew and I wondered if we could do a website..." His first words were, "are you apostate?"

    I was thunderstruck. After lunch he sincerely apologise but apparently they had had problems with people learning Hebrew and Greek and he showed me a Kingdom Ministry with this in to prove it. Hebrew and Greek = apostate.

    Then he said there would never be such a website. Did I have any idea how expensive it would be? Quitely I thought, "I'd help you build it." But I never said cause there was no point. They were never going to build a website... ever, ever, ever.

  • voltaire2

    It's worth remembering that bible Greek is VERY, VERY old. I tried reciting John 1:1 to a Greek lady I know, and my pronunciation isn't so bad, but she didn't understand. She did seem to recognize it was from the bible, though. I tried it with a young man and it went right over his head. Imagine quoting a passage from Canterbury Tales to someone. It'd be barely intelligible.

  • Anna Marina
    Anna Marina

    Hi Voltaire2 - the Greek is different but I joined a Greek congregation and they managed with it just fine, so long as they were reading it. But they were not used to reading the New Testament in the original Greek, so sometimes they paused in their understanding but they got it in the end.

    I found it fascinating to see the connection to some English words. The angel with the mega phone is the angel with the strong voice. (Rev 1:10)

    Eucharist (evkaristo) means, "thank you."

    When you get onto the Hebrew - Hebrew speaking Jews can read it easily like today's paper.

  • scary21

    Love your stories Terry. I have the purple book too. Just reading the English version right under the Greek can be very dangerous to JW's.

    I read the part about people coming out of their graves and walking around after Jesus death to a couple JW ladies once.

    OMG they were having panic attacks . It was rather hilarious.

    They had to call a elder on the phone.......He wanted to speak to me. " where did you get that from " he asked I said from the Interlinear Translation a JW publication. That shut him up but it was so much FUN for me.

  • Terry

    I think the fetish JW's have for quoting Greek goes all the way back to Benjamin Willson's Emphatic Diaglott (the WT used to offer it) and the idea that parousia solved the problem of having been WRONG about 1914 (seemingly).

    We were like kids dressed in adult clothes pretending to be so smart about the meaning of meaning.

    I wonder if current members learn anything at all or if it's just about surviving the Great Tribulation. At least, back in the 50's and 60's we had the "Theocratic Ministry School" to bolster the delusion we actually knew something.

    The whole idea of having a conversation with a householder which involved debate may well have disappeared with the advent of the Internet and the ability to Google "Jehovah's Witnesses".

    Anybody can pinpoint the errors pretty quickly.

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