Saturday, December 27, 2014

Translating from the Greek

Yesterday the eminent Biblical scholar Dr. Phillip Towner preached a sermon using for his model his pedagogical strategy of assigning to students the task of translating from ancient Greek, not a passage from the New Testament, but some piece of historical writing with which they are totally unfamiliar.
According to him the students report that it took them days to accomplish the assignment, not like the familiar Bible stories which, as he put it, they can "do on the fly."

As I commented to him afterwards, it's the same with music.  We have heard the piece a thousand times therefore we know how it goes and there is no need to work at it.  I have the same problem as everyone else:  I am a good reader, I know how to play a Beethoven minuet when I see one.  But do I really know what it is about?  For example, how much irony enters into a Beethoven minuet? 

The performance I heard last week of the Septet leads me to believe that there is huge potential here, disguised by the illusion that one knows how it goes.