[Course Forum] Biblical Ancient Greek – Comprehensive

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Thank you all for your help. We’re going on 5 years and ~2700 users, learning the New Testament by word-frequency. I still love that model, and please tell the group your stories if you got 'em! And for those of you willing, start a group or teach a class and open with the line “I’m not saying you’ll know Greek by the time we leave today, but I am saying that in 10 minutes you’ll know 25% of the words in the New Testament, and in a few hours you’ll know enough that whenever you have a question that looking up the Greek may be able to help solve, you’ll be able to tell which word is which and the general gist of the verse.” I had a famous Greek professor who followed it up with “but all deals are off if anyone says ‘it’s all greek to me!’”

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And here’s the link to the course Biblical Ancient Greek - Comprehensive.


Hi mrcolj,
First of all thank you so much for creating this course. It’s been a great help to me in increasing my vocabulary for reading the New Testament.

I want to report an issue which I found when I reached level 32. It seems that starting from this level, the English and Greek are reversed. I can see this even when browsing through the vocabularies of the levels - starting from 32, the English column on the left is now filled with Greek words, and the middle column is now all English. In order to continue progressing in the course, I have to type in Greek instead of English. Am I the only one seeing this? This really surprised me because it’s much harder to type in Greek - a complete change of mindset. I wonder if this is intentional or is there some sort of error somewhere?

I really hope that if it is not intentional, then we can somehow fix the error! (I can volunteer any help if needed.) I was anticipating following this course to the very end, and it would require a drastic change of mindset if I were to continue in this reversed manner.



Hello Daniel
I have reached level 32 and have the exact same problem. I think it must be a genuine mistake because they still ask for the English translation of the ‘missing’ Greek work. I can transliterate using a standard keyboard but haven’t worked out how to reproduce the letter chi. You are certainly right about needing a different mindset as it has thrown me completely. Have you looked further ahead to other levels and if so is there still the same problem?

Hi Maddy,
I have peeked a little bit at the highest levels, and there seems to be stretches where it reverts back temporarily to the initial format of typing only English words in. However, since the time when I wrote this post, I have since decided to forge ahead, getting used to typing Greek using the English alphabet (by the way, you can use “kh” for the Greek letter chi). I’m now at level 72 and there hasn’t been much of a change so far - it only works if I type the Greek in, transliterated into Latin letters. It’s kind of annoying because the transliteration is not tolerated on the mobile version (so there, I have to actually type in the correct Greek letters with accents, which is a pain, because I personally don’t think knowing accents exactly should be a concern until you are really fluent at a high level). However, I think the change of mindset into typing the Greek instead of the English is ultimately for the better. I’m able to retain the more complex words I’m learning much more reliably using this method. Previously I would be able to kind of guess the meaning and advance quickly without really knowing the meaning of the word. Now I can write out in Greek most of the words I’m learning.

Hello Daniel and thank you for taking the time and trouble to reply
Also thank you for the info on how to type the chi. I have had to skip over the two words I have met so far with a chi in them!
I am sure that you are correct and that it is a better way to learn the Greek but it is a lot slower because the transliterated words look nothing like the originals. Still I am only on level 32 and hopefully I shall get used to the new way of learning. Also learning vocabulary and translating into Greek is still much easier than learning grammar! I was working my way through the Reading Greek course but seemed to spend all my time looking up meanings of words and so decided it was time to get down to some serious vocabulary learning. Memrise makes learning fun and means I definitely do a little each day. Have you tried out the Daily dose of Greek website? That does involve grammar but is also a good way to put this learning into practice and again it is free!!
I shall keep an eye out for you on the leaderboards now. Happy learning. Oh and my name is Beverley… Maddy was the name of my dog

It is true that the transliterated words do not look quite the same as the originals. But after a while you will quickly adapt in your mind what the equivalent Greek letters are, e.g. chi = kh, psi = ps, nu = n, and so on. (My favorite so far has been splagkhnizomai - to have compassion!) This will make it easier to recognize the Greek when it is needed (and you will still see the original Greek plenty of times, since many of the exercises, as you know, are still selecting the correct Greek word based on an English meaning).

As for Memrise in general I think it’s great as a supplement, but you need to learn the grammar independently. In college I went through most of the Reading Greek (although I forgot a lot of it after that), then last year I relearned Greek, this time in the Koine version (using Clayton Croy’s A Primer of Biblical Greek). I still review the conjugation forms of the words regularly as learning vocab doesn’t do that much. That being said, I have tried freely reading the NT and in many cases it seems possible to discern the general meaning if you know the vocab without knowing the grammatical forms too well (and especially if you already know the NT in English reasonably well). In that sense Memrise has been very helpful. Thanks for bringing up the Daily Dose of Greek - I think that will be helpful to review the grammar.

My plan with Memrise is to get my vocabulary up to 95% of the NT - I also bought Trenchard’s Complete Vocabulary Guide to the NT, which has a word frequency table on which this course is based, and calculated that you only need to learn about 1,500 words to cover 95% of all the words in the NT. (1,000 words is about 90%.) Once I get to that point, I’ll start relaxing my progress on the Memrise course, and focus on Daniel Wallace’s plan for translating the NT. His recommendation is to go through the entire NT three times, starting first with the easier books.

I’m having an issue early on in the course. When asked to type in the English for a word, a lot of them are starting to have three or four “definitions”, all of which have to be typed out, and a particular (arbitrary) order, for the answer to be considered correct. For example, “ἀφίημι - I let go, I permit, I forgive”.

It should accept any of the translations, not the entire list, since that in itself is arbitrary. There is no exact mapping between the Greek word and a single English word or a small set of words. There have been some that will accept just one but then others that demand the exact string as given. That’s testing my memorization of how it’s entered in this particular course, not the meaning of the word per se.

As for the above comment about accents, I disagree that they should be disregarded until a high level. They really are not complicated, and if you’re actually treating Greek as a language and not some kind of cypher to be decoded, then they should absolutely be considered important. They’re an important part of the writing system, at least in the Koine Greek age which this course is about.

see Has there been a change in the way memrise treats commas?

Oh my. That is extremely disheartening.

The site admins are aware that they shit upon the probably tens of thousands of hours of work of their most dedicated users, and their solution is “too bad for you”? Even when the fix would be extremely simple and wouldn’t require more than an hour or two of work by any semi-competent programmer?

So what am I supposed to do? Because if that’s the case, the site is essentially unusable.

yeah, memrise ruined the best classical languages courses… Memrise needs money, and Humanities are “brotlose Künste”…

I have no idea, honestly, ask the memrise people who seem active in the fora (look for memrise_matty, lien, joshua, hung-phan, add a @ in front of the nick for a tiny chance of an answer - which will probably be the same “too bad for you”)

They say that if you want to keep using these courses you will have to change all the commas to another seperator like ; or /

For more information:

best classics courses are usualy

  1. long,
    2 many were made by kiddies preparing for exams, and the kiddies moved on and left memrise
  2. to change so many commas it is a huge amount of work
    4 changing the commas is against the grain of habitual learning in these fields because
  3. most people are used to seeing the endings for plural, feminine, genitive etc in dictionary form after commas, not after semicolons. Having something else instead of commas is interrupting the learning flow, and one needs to constantly readapt the visual perception, when switching between memrise and the other learning sources

( I’ve been used to commas as separators for plural or genitive endings or or or, etc for decades now…)


I totally agree