Friday, September 19, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
Earlier posts in this series may be read here (Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five).
Some closing thoughts from me
I'd never corresponded with Jason before, as I mentioned. I'm not sure a Koine version of Rosetta Stone would be useful, simply because Rosetta Stone is a wildly over-priced, unsuccessful learning tool. While I am in theory very pro- using technology to facilitate language learning, I have yet to encounter much in the way of truly useful language learning software.
Meanwhile a 6-month Greek immersion school would be a wonderful thing. I expect it will remain a pipe dream for a little while yet.
I have some other thoughts on related topics, but they will need to await another day. I have at least one more interview slated to come in, but we're definitely open to hearing from anyone else teaching Greek communicatively, in whatever context; don't wait for me to e-mail you, e-mail me today.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Monday, September 08, 2014
It's a commonplace to state, "love is a verb", and then to say that therefore it's about actions, not about emotions. This is a common Christianesque argument. The problem is that saying "love is a verb" does not negate the fact that it is also a noun. It's a noun in every language that is likely in view (English, Koine Greek, Hebrew). Merely stating that it is a verb does not entail some essentialist view of it, no more than saying, "love is a noun" somehow desiccate it of its verbal notions.
If your argument is, "Love is a verb", my conclusion is, "you're a linguistic ignoramus."
Friday, September 05, 2014
We recently came to a firm decision that at the end of 2014 we will return from Mongolia.
It was not an easy decision, and in this post I am going to both explain and explore the reasons, the implications, and some of the attendant issues.
We first came to Mongolia in March of 2012, about 2.5 year ago. Our intention was to learn Mongolian well, and spend an open, but longish, number of years serving here, with an eye to theological education ministry. In 2013 I began teaching at UBTC, part time for one semester before switching to full-time. This present semester is my 4th, and the end of a second year. Overall this is a fairly 'short' time.
At the same time, beginning in March 2012, I commenced a PhD program. Although I am a fairly talented and resourceful individual, pursuing a doctorate in patristic theology while in Ulaanbaatar has proved challenging. The two great challenges are (a) availability of resources, and (b) undivided attention. Teaching a full-time load in a foreign language has proved enjoyable but taxing. While I have many resources, access to secondary literature is a major barrier.
Over this past summer I gave considerable thought, and prayer, to not only our immediate, but our long-term future. Although I have no prophetic 'word from the Lord', I've come to believe that returning to Australia at this time to pursue full-time studies will bring greater benefits and greater opportunities for life-long ministry in the future. Primarily this has to do with completing the PhD, and working in the related of fields NT studies, Church History, Patristics, and Greek (and Latin) language.
In many ways leaving the 'mission field' is very difficult especially when it's voluntary. I think within evangelical circles there is a simultaneous problem of making too much of missionaries, and too little of missionary life. That is, 'missionary' is a title with an unhelpful mystique and prestige, it's the highest rank you can achieve, short of martyrdom. To step back from that into other worlds, other ministries, can seem like, and for us feel like, a kind of 'failure'. This is simply not true, but that doesn't mean it doesn't feel true. However, I can honestly say that over these past almost-3 years, that we have "done good" in Mongolia. It wasn't a waste of time, it was a 'success', if you want to use that language. At the same time, we make too little of missionary life, because we think missionaries are so great, and fail to adequately appreciate the real difficulties and sacrifices involved in living in foreign cultures, ministering in strange lands. I would say that we have done pretty well, and been well supported, but it has been taxing.
It's also quite difficult because we are well aware that there are significant, great, gospel needs in Mongolia, and that we will leave some 'holes' here. Holes that God can fill, but holes nonetheless. This will be true at the college, at our international church, in our organisation's UB team, and in our personal relations. We are at a point where my language skills in particular are 'quite good', having been able to preach in Mongolian a few times over the summer.
Returning also comes with a financial cost for us. Perhaps ironically, to go from missionaries back to Australia takes us from a surprisingly financially stable situation, to an incredibly uncertain one. For my part, I am hoping to take up a scholarship as well as find some part-time work to support us. My wife, too, will be exploring employment possibilities. My assurance in this is that God's provision is not merely a 'special promise for missionaries', but his enduring character.
At present, we will continue here until the end of November, and I will see out the teaching semester. We will return to Sydney where I will pursue full-time doctoral studies for the next 1.5 years. During that time I am planning, Deo volente, to visit Mongolia at least three more times to teach some intensive courses. At that end of that year and a half, we will again re-assess what future possibilities there are for mission, ministry, work, and the Lord's Kingdom.
For those of you who pray, I would ask you to commit this time and our plans to the Lord.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Was going well in early August, but has slowed right down with the start of school here. Not expecting to get a terrible lot done in the next two months either.
Despite the (relatively) large interest, I have basically shelved this project for now. I send an e-mail to Domus Latina some months ago, and tried a few other indirect means to make contact, but without any real success. If I cannot even secure a permission for translation rights, there is little point in persevering with a project that could never legally see the light of day. So we're stalled at chapter 13.
Greek via a natural method Reader
I did however start a second, vaguely related, reader project this month, of which two chapters are available. I think this approach will give us more freedom, and hopefully avoid any possible issues of copyright, thus leading to a genuinely free product.
Getting the first reader done was an important milestone, just to have something 'finished'. I'm at work on a second text, and a little over half-way done. I expect it may see a pdf release in October sometime, before working on a third text before year's end.
Neo-Koine core vocab
A while ago I wrote about 'Developing the Neo-Koine vocabulary'. I have been at work on a core list of 600 odd words that would prove a useful base for anyone interested in a more active, contemporary usage of Ancient Greek. The Greek version of my list is at 220 words, and I add about 50 words a week. One I reach 620 I will publish a version of this for public use and critique, while continuing to add to it.
Semester has started and I'm teaching New Testament Theology as well as Greek Exegesis of John's Gospel. I have some thoughts on writing some exegetical notes on John, but we shall have to see. I also have an idea for an article.
Productivity prospects for September:
Are low, as I am in Japan for two weeks and will not be able to get as much done in these areas. Still, there will be a solid 2.5 weeks after I return and hopefully we will see some more progress.