Greek like Violin (or SEAL training): Introduction to the madness

My last post about “Practicing Greek Like a Violin Player” included a lot of commitment-type statements about some radical changes I was going to incorporate into my study of ancient, koine Greek. As I related there, I have two months until my PhD program in New Testament begins at Durham University, England, and I want to be ready. More than ready. This morning I began that new study regime and I intend to use AHS (Abbey House Sojourner) as a means to 1) log my work, 2) track my progress, and 3) keep me accountable.

But there is another reason why these next two months of postings are so important. It’s for people like you, the reader of this blog, who is eager to see a rigorous, self-initiated (and self-inflicted) method put into practice. I myself have found great inspiration to study ancient Greek and Hebrew beyond the limits of my seminary coursework from various sources. Apart from my personal interaction with men such as William Varner and Abner Chou, whose abilities in the languages are phenomenal, other men have tremendously influenced my dedication to achieving fluent reading ability in these ancient languages.

Check out these videos and posts: N. T. Wright on how he studies the languages; Dan Wallace‘s testimony of how he failed beginning Greek and what kept him going (quoted by Justin Taylor who cited it from Constantine Campbell’s Keep Your Greek: Strategies for Busy People); Andy Naselli on the importance of the original languages; Jared Oliphint with some great maintenance tips, and the catalyst of my journey; Brian Rickett‘s incredible commitment of dependance on the Lord that brought amazing results, and the post by William Varner on the three things the future generation of theologians must possess which includes mastery of the Bible in the original languages.

The above sources are helpful, but they are all lacking one crucially vital component: details. What I have sought but cannot find is a day-by-day account of what these men’s efforts have looked like. What goals did they have setting out? How successful were they from one day to the next? What did their planning process look like? I want the intimate details, not another on how somebody went from knowing nothing to being able to read everything.

seal log

This probably stems from my years training for the Navy SEALs. No, I was never a bonified SEAL, but during my four years at the Naval Academy I trained hard to earn a spot after graduation to head to BUDs, the SEAL bootcamp. Although a couple of surgeries kept me from my goal, I was highly disciplined during those four years. I still have workout notebooks from those days that logged every mile run, every lap swum, every pushup, pullup and situp.

That’s what I intend to do with my “Greek like Violin” posts. Not only will I benefit from the daily reminder to log hours and topics studies, but you as the reader of AHS will hopefully be inspired to follow your own ridiculously difficult program to gain fluency in reading Greek and Hebrew.

So join me on this journey. Study along with me, whether you associate more with the rigor of mastering violin or the sheer endurance of SEAL training. Watch me succeed, watch me fail, but most importantly, watch as the Lord uses this meager clay vessel for His glory. Because in the end, it’s not really important if I can pick up my Biblia Sacra (Hebrew and Greek Bible) and read it effortlessly. The main thing is being submitted to my Master as I study his Word, growing deeper in relationship with him and teaching others to “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).



  1. […] following. It initially entered my digital field of vision through a backtrack link on his post here. The author, Tavis Bohlinger, is set to start a PhD in New Testament at Durham this fall. You can […]


  2. […] excellent post by Brian Rickett over at MetaTaPhysika. He’s a stud in the biblical languages (his study habits have made it into a prior post), and he quotes from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (free on Kindle!) to […]


  3. […] breakdown for Day 1 of Week 3 of Greek like Violin (if you are new to the practice logs, read this Introduction […]


  4. […] project has been going well. So time to modify things. I was reminded again today of just how important it […]


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