The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Nov 14, 2015

"Parse That Verb!" (the hit, new gameshow sweeping my Greek Exegesis class--and how to play it)

Note: this game could probably be played by any group of students that has completed 1st year Greek.

"All study and no play makes your average Greek student hate the original languages," said a wise sage once (I think it was Yogi Berra). Completely concurring with that philosophy, I have introduced a fairly sophisticated (if I do say so myself) team-based competition into my seminary-level Greek Exegesis class. Almost every Thursday we engage in head-to-head battle in a game I like to call PARSE THAT VERB! [notice the snazzy and completely original-sounding name!]

The premise is simple: I divide up the class into three teams of 3 or 4 students each. We'll call them "teams A, B, and C." And I, as the professor, make up "team D" on my own. Each team has to parse one verb randomly chosen per round, and is given points based on the percentage of parsing data they got correct (lexical must be perfect to count, and this includes hapax legomena and other words nobody has actually learned).

To choose words to parse, I load up my copy of Accordance, then do a search for every verb in the New Testament. I have my Mac hooked up to a projector, so all students can see. When all is ready, we begin.

First, the previous team picks out a book of the Bible for the next team, then I as the professor choose a word at random (doing my best to maintain the same level of challenge for each team). So Team C chooses "Revelation," and I look for a difficult word in Revelation, expand it on the screen, and give them a time limit to come up with their answer (all members of the team consult and come up with their best shot together). If it's an indicative and they get everything correct except the lexical, they get 83% points (5/6 instead of the 6/6 pieces of data needed for a 100% parse). If it's a participle and they get the tense, voice, and mood correct but miss the gender, number, case, and lexical, then they only get 43 points. One bad parse can allow the 2nd place team to pass the 1st place team (which is exactly what happened last Thursday).

Now, here's the twist. If any other team (whoever's quickest) suspects that the current team has not parsed perfectly (and only if they haven't parsed perfectly), they can CHALLENGE the other team and attempt to get a perfect parse. They risk 20 points by challenging, but they can gain 30 points for perfectly parsing somebody else's verb (the original team still gets  credit for the points they've earned, though).

Let's say team A parses an infinitive correctly except for the lexical (they then get 75 points for getting 3/4, regardless). Before the answer is revealed, team B challenges and parses the verb perfect, netting a bonus 30 points before their turn has even come around yet. If team B had failed, they would have lost 20 points (the only way you can lose points in the game).

One more twist. I, as the professor (my own team), has to parse verbs from Josephus (one of the students is designated to find me a difficult verb each round from all the verbs in Josephus).

Currently we have four teams of 3, 3, 4, and 1, respectively, in my class. "The Daniels" (two Daniels and one Luke with the middle name Daniel) , "The Scholars" (the humblest students in the class :)  ), "The Packer-backs Under Protest" (one of the students was not a Packers fan!), and finally "The Prof." Initially "The Scholars" was running away with the prize, and "the Prof" was in 3rd place (trust me, it's tough to parse a verb from Josephus perfectly when you don't know the lexical!) but "the Daniels" passed them, and then "The Professor" got a bit of help in the form of the 2nd year Greek teacher who just so happened to have an hour to spare, so currently "The Prof" is in first, and "the Daniels" are in second! [hey, I have my image to protect]

Needless to say, all contestants have been tested for performance-enhancing software.

So, anyways, we've been having a lot of fun with this game, and the fact that a team can "challenge" at any time means that all students stay busy during every part of the round. Granted, it won't replace "Settlers of Cataan" or "Ticket to Ride" anytime soon, but it's about the most fun you can have in Greek class with just a projector and Accordance software. [Always open to suggestions on how to improve it]