Greek Grammars and Helps

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by John of Japan, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I did a thread some time ago on Greek lexicons that was well received, so I thought I'd do a similar one, this time on Greek grammars and helps. Of course, anyone is welcome to add their own reviews.

    First of all, let me mention the classic beginning grammar by J. Gresham Machen, the great Presbyterian Greek scholar, New Testament Greek for Beginners. You can find a PDF here: http://www.churchlivinglord.com/NT_Greek_Grammar_by_J_Gresham_Machen_1_.pdf. When I first took Greek in the early '70s this was the standard beginning grammar. Then when I taught Greek in Japan at a couple of different Bible schools it was the only one available in Japanese, except for one year when I had to use a handwritten, self-published grammar by a Japanese man, which met the need but barely.

    Machen's grammar is quite well done, which explains its longevity. (It was first published in 1923.) It goes to 221 pages of instruction and 33 chapters, meaning you have to double up some of the chapters to finish in two semesters if you are teaching it. In the back of the book (pp. 225- are some very handy resources: all of the paradigms (including a luo chart and a -mi verb chart), Greek-English and English-Greek vocab dictionaries, and a good index.

    There are a couple of weak points. First of all, there has been a lot of research done since Machen was published, both lexical and grammatical. So Machen doesn't have the latest on verbal aspect (the point of view of the writer) and aktionsart (the kind of action the verb portrays). Secondly, there is not a key to the exercises, though one may be bought here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0024206504/?tag=baptis04-20.
     
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  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Beginner's Grammar of the Greek New Testament, by William Hersey Davis, is another oldie but goodie. Copyright in 1923, it was another standard textbook back in the day. It also has the paradigms, dictionary and index in the back. It can be had second hand very cheaply on Amazon, but you probably don't need it unless you are just curious.

    The homework exercises are short, which the student appreciated, but as far as I know there are no answer keys, so the teacher has to translate them himself. Now any Greek teacher worth his salt can do this, but an answer key helps so much and saves much time.

    What makes this textbook an oddity is that Davis gives 8 cases (for nouns, adj., etc.) whereas the usual text gives only five. How does he do that? He divides the normal usages of some of the cases into more than one case. For example, the genitive becomes the genitive and ablative, though the endings are the same. Thankfully, this pattern was not followed by other grammarians, and no modern text uses the 8 case system. I will say from experience, having been taught by this text, that it was confusing.

    For those of you who do not know Greek, the cases (shown by their word endings) show the relationship of the particular word to the rest of the sentence. Nominative shows that the word is the subject (or complement) of the sentence, the genitive shows possession, etc.
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    There are several other old time beginning grammars that were popular in their day, such as A Brief Introduction to New Testament Greek, by Samuel G. Green, 1911. (PDF: http://cdn.textkit.net/SSG_Intro_NT_Greek.pdf) However, I'm going to move on to a very interesting work by the great A. T. Robertson, A Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament, from 1908. At over 200 pages of text, this might be considered an intermediate grammar nowadays, since it does not have vocabulary lists or homework exercises, and deals more with historical linguistics, syntax, etc., and does not include paradigms for the student to learn. Unfortunately I can't find a PDF of this work for you.

    To the Greek geek, the first two chapters are the most interesting: "The Modern Method of Linguistic Study," and "What is the Greek of the New Testament," which has such sections as "Backward light from Modern Greek vernacular," and "The Semitic influence," and "The Latin influence."
     
  4. McCree79

    McCree79
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    How do you feel about William Mounce's publications on Greek grammar?

    Sent from my LGLS990 using Tapatalk
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Good timing! I was just about to start discussing modern beginning grammars.

    I taught from Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek last year, and there is much good about it, which explains why it is a best seller. It has 36 chapters (manageable in two semesters), each of which starts with an "Exegetical Insight." It often has a discussion at the beginning of the chapter comparing Greek grammar with English grammar, which is helpful. The exercises (homework) are quite well done, with many directly from the NT towards the end of the book. There is a workbook/answer book, laminated reference sheet and vocab cards available for the book: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Bill+Mounce

    Mounce has provided some excellent resources beyond the textbook. Check out the free course on his website at: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/biblical-greek/william-mounce. There is an even more basic course for non-Greek students at: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/greek-tools-bible-study/william-mounce.

    Other resources there include DVDs (for a price), free vocab software, etc. Check out www.teknia.com.

    All in all, anything by Mounce is excellent. However, after one year teaching from his text I changed to David Alan Black's text, which I will review later. Why? Mounce simply did not match my teaching style. For example, Mounce tries to take away the effort of memorizing the paradigms (verb, adj., noun, article) by providing rules for discerning the tense, case, etc. He has seven noun rules which I myself found burdensome. So rather than go that route I decided that simply memorizing the paradigms was easier, hence the change to Mounce.
    .
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Has anyone read Mounce's book for non-students, Greek for the Rest of Us? Knowing Mounce, it has to be good, so I recommend it for anyone reading this who doesn't think they can learn Greek but want to know what it's all about.
     
  7. preachinjesus

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    Mounce is solid all the way around. Even in his less academic works like Greek For the Rest of Us, there is an attention to keeping the main thing central and providing plain explanations to often technical discussions.

    Personally, I was raised on Mounce. At SWBTS, I was assigned his basic grammar and syntax volumes to go along with Munn's self-written grammar. Between the academic years, I used his workbooks to keep my Greek up. I appreciate Mounce very much and don't know of any other grammars that I would recommend over and against his. David Allen Black's is helpful to be sure, but it doesn't have the same ability as the Mounce.

    All this said, I do have AT Robertson's complete A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of the Historical Research from 1934. Its a wonderful resource to see how the instruction of NT has developed over the years.

    One final note, I was taught the 8 case system for nouns. As a student I didn't know any better, so I'm still calling certain forms ablative over the genitive or instrumental/locative over the general dative. Thankfully, my PhD isn't in NT.
     
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  8. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks much for your input. Please feel free to review any other volumes.
    I thought Mounce was excellent when I taught from it last year. I changed to Black because Mounce just didn't fit my teaching style, and I know Dr. Black so have some prejudice that way, I freely admit. (He was my son's mentor for the PhD at SEBTS, and I love his missionary heart.)

    Tell me more about Munn's self-written grammar. Is it Greek Signals, the Door to the Greek New Testament, which I found on Amazon? What does he mean by "Greek signals"?

    Dr. Maurice Robinson at SEBTS doesn't use a textbook. (My son subsittuted for him.) That blows my mind! I don't think I could do that successfully.
    I have that wonderful volume too, and will review it later. I've consulted it many times over the years.
    I shed the 8 case system when they changed textbooks at my college. It never made sense to me, and besides, I have an unreasoning love for the phrase "the dative of means." :)
     
  9. Rippon

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    I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Dr. Rod Decker's Reading Koine Greek : An Introduction and Integrated Workbook. It was published in 2014, the year of his death. (704 pages)

    I don't have the book. I am just a fan of Rod's. He's a hero of mine. I appreciated his ministry --including his blog which is now maintained by Dr. Wayne Slusser.
     
  10. Yeshua1

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    Would say that both Dr Mounce and Dr Black have written fine grammars and introductions into the greek texts for students, and also though would recommand going on the grammars by both dr Wallace and Dr AT Robertson..

    First book that I read along these lines was the one written Dr Goodrick, Do it Yourself greek and hebrew,,,...
     
  11. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks for your input.
     
  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Since I switched to David Alan Black's textbook this year, Learn to Read New Testament Greek, several interested parties including the two men who teach 2nd year Greek, have told me they really like it. That's great, because I sure do myself.

    Dr. Black has fit the usual 36-40 chapters of a Greek text into only 26, which makes it quite easy to fit into two semesters and have some time at the end to translate 1 John with the students. He does this by such logical steps as having the present active indicative and future active indicative in the same chapter, since all you do for the future is insert a sigma at the proper place.

    The exercises are excellent, with the answers in the back of the book, so you do have to trust the students a little on that. Beginning in Chapter 18, the students are translating straight Scripture in their homework, and I like that a lot. There is a supplementary exercise book by a third party here which I am not using myself, but may be helpful: http://www.amazon.com/dp/080544792X/?tag=baptis04-20

    There are nine helpful Appendixes and the usual Greek-English and English-Greek dictionaries. Then, like the old Dana and Mantey intermediate grammar, this one has a huge foldout chart of all of the paradigms, which I really like.

    Another thing I like about Dr. Black's textbook is the information from modern linguistics that he includes. Dr. Mounce does this too, but I feel that Dr. Black incorporates linguistics into the text better. After all, another of his books is Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek.

    Finally, I think Mounce is an excellent beginning textbook, but I'm glad I switched to Black, and highly recommend it.
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I have one last beginning grammar to review, though as my son says, every Greek prof seems to write his own.

    The Bob Jones U. Greek faculty wrote its own textbook, which is now in the 4th ed. Among fundamentalists, BJU is known as a school with a good emphasis on the ancient languages. Back in the day Greek classes at BJU were five credits each for Gr. 101 and 102, though I don't know what they are now. Plus, the leading scholar from BJU, Dr. Stewart Custer had a good volume out, A Treasury of New Testament Synonyms.

    Their textbook is A Handbook for New Testament Greek, and it is well done, divided into a beginning and an intermediate text, so they use it for both years of undergrad Greek. The basic section is about 140 pages with "Guided Readings in First John" after that. The intermediate section is next, only about 82 pages. However, there are some useful appendixes which may supplement the lessons. The typical paradigms and dictionaries and index end the book. The homework assignments for both years are in a separate volume, A Workbook For New Testament Greek, by Brian Hand.

    The beginning text looks quite usable, but IMO the intermediate section is much too short. I can only assume they do a lot of translation work in second year Greek, but if I were to teach from the beginning section I would use a different text for the intermediate section. Another negative is that the binding is not hard cover, but soft cover with a spiral binding, which might not wear well.
     
  14. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Before I leave beginning grammars, one problem Greek profs have is helping the students keep their Greek skills over the summer between first and second year Greek. One help for this is A Summer Greek Reader, by Richard Goodrich and David Diewert.

    This excellent help has twelve weeks of six readings of 6-7 or so of passages from from the Greek NT for the student to translate. Below each passage are several words to parse, and lines enough to write the student's translation in. At the end they have put literal, fairly rough translations for each passage so the student can check their work. (The authors warn that these are not polished translations as in a Bible version, but strictly for use with the book.) There are also vocabulary lists for each week.
     
  15. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Another useful help for beginners is a laminated, four page chart from Zondervan linked to Mounce's Greek for the Rest of Us: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0310262941/?tag=baptis04-20

    I have an old slide-rule type help for the Greek verbs called "Slidaverb," put out by Zondervan a couple of decades ago, but it is out of print.

    On the vocab side, Mounce has a great set of vocab cards for his beginning Greek textbook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0310259878/?tag=baptis04-20

    For this year, though, using Black's textbook I went to the classic set by Gromacki: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1556370075/?tag=baptis04-20
     
  16. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    And now for some intermediate grammars. The dominant one when I first took a seminary course in Greek in 1976 was A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, by H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, usually called "Dana and Mantey." It was a great grammar and I have consulted it many times over the years, though originally copyright 1927.

    At over 300 pages including the appendices, it is somewhat lengthy for an intermediate grammar, but I like that. The way the topics are arranged is easy to follow, logically arranged. There is Part 1: Accidence (punctuation, etc.), and Part 2: Syntax (parts of speech, the verb, clauses, etc.)

    In the back of the book there is a great chart that folds out of the entire Greek verb system. This is wonderful for a lover of Greek grammar!

    There is a drawback in the age of this grammar. Being as old as it is, it has little about verbal aspect (the action from the point of view of the writer), and is a little behind the times in aktionsart (the kind of action of the verb), but all in all it is an excellent resource.
     
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  17. HankD

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    I cut my teeth (3 semesters) on Dana and Mantey John (366pgs; 1955 Edition).
    Still have it, still reference it (among others garnered along the way).

    HankD
     
  18. HankD

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    Me too.

    HankD
     
  19. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    It was a great grammar for its day, and I still reference it occasionally too.
     
  20. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Syntax of New Testament Greek, by James A. Books and Carlton L. Winbery ("Brooks & Winbury"), is another grammar from back in the day. It was copyright 1979, and was a text when I took a couple of Greek classes on furlough in 1986. It is a good deal more up to date than Dana & Mantey, but has a number of drawbacks.

    First of all, at only 167 pages, plus subject and scripture indexes and nothing more, it's somewhat short and limited for an intermediate grammar. (Oddly, one reviewer said it was 204 pages, but that must have been a different edition.) Again, my copy uses a poor font, one that looks like it was just typewritten. Again, it uses the 8 case system, which has been pretty much abandoned by modern grammarians.

    All in all, I wouldn't choose this one for a textbook, but I've kept it and do consult it once in a long while.
     

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