Monday, August 29, 2016

the St John's Gospel method of learning a new language!

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, a most learned man with a remarkable command of languages, recently shared his method for learning different tongues (in an interview* here):

'I studied foreign languages using the Gospel. I always began with the Gospel of John. It is the most convenient Gospel for learning words, they are repeated constantly: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, the same was in the beginning with God.” Experts say that the vocabulary of the Gospel of John is half of that of the other Gospels, although in volume it is no less than the others. This lexical laconicism is connected to the fact that many of the words are repeated.

'Why is it convenient to learn language from the Gospels? Because when you read a familiar text which you know practically off by heart, you don’t have to look up words in the dictionary, you recognize the words. That’s how I learnt Greek. At first I read the Gospel of John, then I read the three other Gospels, then I began to read the Epistles of the apostles, then I began to read the Church Fathers in Greek. Moreover, when I studied Greek, I listened to a tape recording of the Liturgy in Greek. I studied it in the pronunciation which is used by Greeks today.'

Fascinating, don't you think? And, if I may suggest, would it not be a great way to increase biblical literacy if the system were to become more popular?

*(Thanks to Fr Hunwicke for his post here which promoted me to do the googling that led me to this interview.)

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