Below is the Greek text of John 15:1-7
I did not mention the Old Testament because it was first written in Hebrew, and learning it is another subject.
Step 1: Learn Greek or use some Greek language tools?
Below is a screen shot from a Wikipedia article on James Strong and Strong's Concordance. Strong assigned a number to each Greek and Hebrew word used in the Bible. He listed passages from the Bible grouped according to the English word used in the King James Translation, but he also attached the number key for the word in the original text of each passage listed. Users do not need to know how to read the Greek or Hebrew alphabets, nor how to pronounce the original words. They need only find all entries with the same number and compare those. Since the advent of computers, there are many programs that help you do this electronically. What took hours with a bound paper concordance now takes minutes with a computer program.
Step 2: I recommend e-Sword.
Step 3: Using e-Sword--Step 1
You see an additional box in the screen headed by G2814. "G" means Greek as opposed to "H" for Hebrew, which would be the case if you were working in the Old Testament. "2814" is the number James Strong assigned to the word translated as "branch" in John 15:2. If you move your cursor over the green superscript hotlink for a Strong's number, a box appears with basic information about the original language word. In addition to pronunciation and spelling information, you are told it derives from a related word, G2806, which you can also check. And, it tells you the basic meaning, as well as all of the words used to translate it in the King James Version. In this case there is only one word used: branch.
Step 4: Using e-Sword--Step 2
In John 15:2 move your cursor over the green superscript hotlink number for "branch" and right click. The boxes you see in the screen shot appear. Click on "New Testament" to generate a list of all passages in the New Testament using the Greek root word translated "branch" in John 15:2. If there were apt to be many, many hits; you may want to limit yourself to all occurrences in the Gospel of John. In that case, you would move the cursor down and left-click on "John" rather than on "New Testament."
Step 5: The search results
Step 6: Using the search results
There is not much controversial about the word "branch" and its meaning. Other words are the subject of much discussion. Examine their use asking questions about who does what to whom under what circumstances, and what are the results of that. This is a type of detective work in which experience brings an awareness that helps you make better and better deductions. Check commentaries and other resources to see if people with more knowledge and experience concur with you.
Step 7: So, you really want to learn the language...
Step 8: Where to go in iTunesU for your Greek course
When the new screen appears with the list of educational institutions, scroll down to the "C" listings and click on "Concordia Seminary."
Step 9: Select Elementary Greek
You can find the folder with your Greek lessons by opening My Computer (Windows) and going to My Documents. Then go to My Music. An iTunes folder will be inside it. You will find your Greek lessons inside another folder titled "iTunes Music." I do not have experience with Macintosh to know where you will find your downloaded files.
Play the files on your computer or move them to your MP3 player.
Step 10: You need a textbook, too.
Step 11: Additional resources
In the graphic notice the version tab now shows "GNT-WH+." That is Greek New Testament--Westcott-Hort with Strong's numbers.
In the window below the Bible text window is the Dictionary window. "Strong" is highlighted in gray. It is the Strong's dictionary. Note the two red boxes I made to draw your attention to specific pieces of information. The upper one shows the word translated in English as "branch" with its Strong's hotlink number: 2814. Also following it are some letters: N-ASN. The next steps will discuss what those can do for you. Hold that for the moment.
In the area outlined by the red box below I typed G2814 and the Strong's dictionary information appears in the main portion of the Dictionary window. For someone learning to read New Testament Greek while taking a basic grammar course like that offered by Dr. Voelz, using these two windows provides a ready vocabulary definition of an unknown word. (Update: I had updated the basic module for e-Sword, but did not update any of the modules with Strong's numbers. Strong's dictionary information is supposed to pop up when the cursor moves over a Strong's number in all such modules. I learned I needed to download updated Bible modules and install them. That makes using the Dictionary window for vocabulary purposes unnecessary.)
Step 12: Parsing words
The Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament module (with Strong's numbers) in e-Sword parses every word of the Greek New Testament for you. Normally, you must buy a separate volume and look up each unknown word in it. To use the parsing feature in this module, pull down the Bible menu and select "Information."
Step 13: Decode the parsing information
The parsing guide is easier to use if you can have a copy of it open in a second window, or if you can have a printed copy in front of you. Open the GNT-WH+ Information window. Click the cursor within the window. Press Ctrl + A to block highlight it. Press Ctrl + C to copy it. Then paste it into your word processor and save it.
Step 14: Final things
When I was freshly out of school I decided I would go to my Greek text first whenever I needed to look up something in the New Testament. If I could not grasp the meaning, I would match up words with a a fairly literal English text. Then I would read the Greek text again and again until it began to fit together and make sense. Eventually, I read the entire Greek New Testament through cover to cover a number of times.
When you are beginning you will look at a word and begin the meticulous process of parsing all aspects of it as a part of speech. After you work with the Greek text for a good while you will just immediately recognize the meaning of a word in all aspects of its grammatical details without thinking, "Oh, it is accusative singular and a neuter." just as you do with your native tongue.
Finally, there are those who imagine that the versions, whether English or in another language, are not really telling us the true meaning of the text. But, those who have learned Greek now know the TRUE meaning kept from the rest of us. Such suspicions are so very false. The English versions really are generally quite good and accurate. Still, at times a translator must make a choice that impacts subtle aspects of the meaning. The advantage of learning some Greek is that you can evaluate those choices for yourself. It is also the difference between watching a travelogue about a place and actually visiting the place, yourself. The firsthand experience is always richer.