At the end of my last semester at SEBTS I took up Dr. Black’s challenge to be in the languages everyday. He promised that translating at least two verses a day would remarkably improve one’s ability to read and understand the language.
Wouldn’t you know, I went far beyond the stipulations. I translated at least a paragraph from the Latin Vulgate, Hebrew Bible, and Greek New Testament. I did this everyday for the past 4 months and my “skills” have greatly improved. But sadly, my newfound obsession with Septuagint studies, vocabulary development/building, and the constant demands of the day have been a σκάνδαλον. Until today I went two weeks without any deliberate attention in the languages (in my LXX studies I regularly translate Greek and Hebrew in order to compare the MT and LXX texts, but it is always as a means to understand the discourse at large).
In today’s reading I found myself in 1 Corinthians 4:3 and came across this phrase, “ἵνα ὑφ᾽ ὑμῶν ἀνακριθῶ ἤ ὑπὸ ἀνθρωπίνης ἡμέρας.” Literally the phrase reads, “But it is a very small thing that I be judged by you or by a human day.” A better translation might be “But it is a very small thing that I be judged by you or by a human court.” While this expression might seem a bit odd, it makes perfect sense in Hebrew and has a number of parallels in other Greek texts. I could go on about how this might be in contrast to a θεῖου ἡμέρας “divine court/divine day” or τῆς ἡμέρας ὀργῆς “the day of wrath.”
Instead, my main take away is this: there is nothing like encountering the text itself. Reading in the language you are studying reinforces vocabulary and forces the reader to encounter idiomatic expressions on their own terms. So, μεθύσκεσθε τῃ γλωσσῃ καὶ τῃ γραφῃ.