On Greek Readers: Other Aids
Vocabulary aids are the true hallmark of a reader, but there are two other very important types of aids. The first of these is morphological aids. The Greek language is equipped with a morphology that is of wonderous variety and beauty, which is a more positive way of saying that the language has so many morphological variations it is difficult, if not impossible, to master them all.
That’s why you should strongly consider putting morphological aids into your reader. You don’t want to go overboard with it, but sometimes they can be a godsend. I’m not sure if you noticed, but some Greek writers spell or contract words a little differently than others. Sometimes it’s easy to tell anyway. Sometimes it isn’t. When it isn’t, consider adding a note. This can also be useful when a writer uses a form that would be more common in Classical Greek than Hellenistic (or vice versa). If the student isn’t familiar with Classical, it would be helpful to add a note.
Guideline #12: Though they are not necessary, including morphological aids in your readers can make the reading of it much easier.
Once again, the type of reader will affect your choices for notes. If you create a reader for a passage in the Illiad, you don’t need to note every time you see a typically-homeric form. They should know that. If you’re creating a reader for something in the Apostolic Fathers and the writer uses a morphological form that never occurs in NT Greek, you should consider making a note, because a large portion of your potential students will be coming from studies in NT Greek. Or if you’re creating a reader to be used before a full coverage first-year-type material is done, you’ll obviously want to have a note for forms the student hasn’t covered yet.
The level of your students is important as well. A reader for students just beginning intermediate Greek will need to have more helps than a reader for those in more advanced stages of study.
Guideline #13: When adding morphological notes, keep your potential student in mind. For students with less experience, more help would be appropriate than with advanced students.
Syntax and Idiom Aids
The second very important type of aid is the syntactical or idiom aid. The same principles apply here as those which applied for morphological aids. If the text has a strange syntactical construction or idiom, consider helping the reader out. Some constructions are rare and most students should not be expected to recognize them. And, once again, your target audience will affect how many syntactical and idiomatic helps you put in.
Guideline #14: Though they are not necessary, including aids to help with syntax and idiom can be very helpful for the students using your reader.
Guideline #15: When adding syntactical and idiomatic notes, keep your potential student in mind. For students with less experience, more help would be appropriate than with advanced students.
Notes of a text-critical nature should be considered purely optional for a reader. If a variant significantly affects the meaning of the text then it can be considered, but there is no good reason to think that text-critical notes should be included. Some may appreciate it, however, so as long as the amount of them is not distracting, adding them could get you the appreciation of a few students.
Guideline #16: Consider adding text-critical notes into a reader, but they should not be viewed as necessary. Too many text-critical notes could be distracting, so this is to be avoided.
If the meaning of a piece of text is not clear, then the student might appreciate a note explaining what the author means. Since this is not the main task of a reader, these notes should be considered optional and used sparingly. However, if the statement of the author is likely to be completely lost on the student when reading, then adding an interpretational note can be a great help.
Guideline #17: Consider adding interpretational notes into a reader, but they should not be considered necessary as that is not the point of the work. However, if the text is inexplicable without a note, strongly consider adding one.
Historical aids are not necessary for a reader, but I think they add a nice flavor to the experience. JACT readers, for example, tend to include this type of material, including pictures. In most cases it is virtually useless for understanding the language, but it can help with vocabulary acquisition when Greek text is paired with an illustration. It also can liven up the text a bit and help keep the student interested.
Guideline #18: Consider adding historical aids and notes into your reader. At the very least you will likely make reading it a better experience for the student, and that’s never a bad idea.
So those are some thoughts on different types of aids and notes you can add in your reader besides ones dealing with vocabulary. Next we’ll talk about the physical characteristics of readers.