Answering Your Mail

Dear Jim,

I’m a first year Seminary student and I’m taking Greek this year and Hebrew next.  How, once I have those languages, can I retain them?  I hear so many people talk about how hard they worked to learn them and then they don’t remember anything they learned.  I don’t want to have that happen to me.  So what can I do?

Thanks, and I really love your blog, and your commentary too.

Chris S.


Thanks.  I appreciate the kind word.  As to your question, here’s the procedure I have followed for a very long time:

Each day I read one to two chapters in the Old Testament or New.  I read them first in Hebrew (or Greek) and then I read the same chapter or chapters in Greek (or Hebrew), Latin, and German.

So, for instance, if I’m reading Jeremiah, I’ll read the Hebrew text then the LXX then the Vulgate and then one of the German editions I have.  If I’m reading Acts I’ll read it in Greek and then Delitzch’s Hebrew New Testament (a real gem), then Latin and then German.

The only way you can retain a language is to use it.  You’ll find that the 10-20 minutes a day you devote to reading the languages you’ve worked so hard to obtain is very much worth it.  Especially when your fellow students start lamenting a year after they had Hebrew that they don’t remember any of it.

One aside- AVOID at ALL COSTS use of an Interlinear.  Don’t fall for the rubbish suggestion that they will help you.  They are an instrument of Satan to mislead the blessed.  Stay away from them as you would a Meth den.  If you don’t, you won’t be able to look at yourself in the mirror with any sense of self respect.  You’ll be a poseur.

Best wishes in your studies.