Saturday, December 4, 2010
Initial Take on Fundamentals of New Testament Greek
One caveat before I begin: I have only spent about an hour looking through the grammar, but here is my initial reaction. This grammar will scare away many a beginning Greek student! To be fair, here is what the authors say in the Preface:
We know that this is a very full, comprehensive, and perhaps even challenging grammar (x).
Part of what makes this grammar different from others is the pace it intends to set in introducing material to the beginning student. One, and this is not necessarily a bad thing, this grammar introduces all Greek words that occur 12x or more, 950 in all. Second, the authors include and introduce the student to a parsing guide before chapter one. For example, word classes such as adjectives (ADJ), article (ART), nouns (NON), particles (PAR), pronouns (PRO), and verbs (VRB) are delineated followed by a discussion of the particular features of the word classes. In the case of an adjective, the reader is alerted that it belongs to one of four declension patterns, including the elements of comparison (c=comparative, s=superlative). One difficulty with this approach is the fact that most beginning students will not have the faintest idea what a declension is! This is then followed up by examples such as πάντες [1/3ADJ-MNP], " 'all' is the masculine nominative plural form of the adjective form of πᾶς, πᾶσα, πᾶν, which takes the endings of the first and third declensions." (xvii) Again, if I am a beginning Greek student my head is probably already spinning! The authors may have been better off including these within each chapter when a particular word class is introduced.
By no means does the brief glance represent my final judgment on the usefulness of this volume. In fact, I rather like the emphases on an expanded vocabulary, the extended discussion on accent rules (11-14). The authors are well aware of the difficulties this grammar may present the beginning student as the quote above demonstrates. I am not in favor of "dumbing down" the approach to Biblical Greek, but I am concerned that the authors of this volume take care to explain difficult concepts clearly and with appropriate timing, something I am not convinced is accomplished from what I have read thus far.