Friday, May 30, 2008

It Was All Greek to Me

I saw today that my Greek professor of many years ago, Dr. James Boyce, is retiring this spring from his position of 39 years at Luther Seminary. I have many memories of my struggles to learn a little Greek in his class once upon a time, but what I remember the most about him is how obvious it was that he loved the language and how he loved teaching students to read the New Testament in its original language. He loved New Testament Greek like I love music -and this was evident in every hour of class with him.

I will never forget the "Aha!" moments I had when translating little chunks of the New Testament in his class, as if reading and hearing them for the first time ... or his showing up for class one day with two different colored shoes on (and then laughing at himself for being an "Absent-Minded Professor").

I struggled a bit with Greek, especially during the second semester (thanks in part to a student from Australia named Andrew, who sat next to me in that class. I suspect that Andrew was not a very good Greek student, but he was a VERY funny guy!). In my youthful wisdom, I took Greek "pass/fail" (instead of for a grade), figuring I would probably not excel - but that was OK, I just wanted to pass. And at the end of second semester when it was time to find out whether I'd passed or failed (it was fairly dicey that second semester!), he said to me, "I'm going to pass you. But I want you to promise to work a little on your participles every day. And I want you come and see me if you run into trouble because of them - because you will."

Well, I confess that I did not work on my participles every day as he suggested ... but I haven't gotten into any trouble as a result either.

But Dr. Boyce stands out in my mind as one of the finest teachers I have had in a classroom setting - brilliant, yet so patient and kind. And now these many years later, I'm certain he would not remember me from the hundreds of students he has taught over the years ... but I will remember him.

May God grant him many years.

3 comments:

DebD said...

What a sweet tribute. Of all my husband's profs the only one I hear him talking about regularly is also his NT Greek prof.

s-p said...

Nice. My Greek prof. Jim Massey reposed several years ago. When he heard that I got an invitation to preach at a vacation Bible school in New Home, TX. he gave me one of his suits to wear because he knew I didn't own one. He was a good man of God. May his memory be eternal.

Matt said...

"I'm going to pass you. But I want you to promise to work a little on your participles every day. And I want you come and see me if you run into trouble because of them - because you will."

That is really sweet. And very funny.