Learn to Read New Testament Greek: A Brief Review

jpegThough I have been using my mentor’s Greek Grammar for some time now, I don’t think I have ever taken the time to mention what I like most of Black’s presentation of NT Greek Grammar. Since I mentioned that it is currently on sale for the kindle, and since I was prompted via the twitter—sorry Kris, I won’t be able to accomplish it in 140 characters, though I will try and be brief—I think now is as good a time as any.

1) Morphologically Driven

The moment students begin learning paradigms (chapter 3), they encounter the concept of morphemes and are encouraged to learn paradigms by recognizing the various morphological components of a word instead of learning through rote memorization.

ex. A good illustration of this is in chapter three where the student learns both the present and the future tenses together. Learning both tenses together provides a base (the present tense) with an easy variation (addition of the σ, or future time morpheme) as an immediate introduction to how changes occur through the addition or subtraction of morphemes.

2) Exercises

Students and teachers know that practice is key to mastery. Accordingly, each lesson is accompanied by 10–20+ exercises with varying degrees of length and difficulty.

3) Answer Key

All the exercises in the book have answers in the back of the book. If the professor doesn’t require all the exercises to be completed for class, then the student is still able to do extra practice and have a guide for their answers. While this certainly opens the possibility of the student shortchanging himself by looking at the answer key first, that is a reality the student himself must grapple with. Looking for the easiest way out will show down the road. If there is no internal motivation to learn Greek, then, answer key or no, the likelihood is that you will not learn Greek.

4) Cheap

  • Learn to Read New Testament Greek retails for $30 and includes exercises.
  • Mounce retails at $50 without exercises and workbook is separate for $22.99.
  • Porter retails at $40 without exercises and workbook is separate for $20.00.

5) Strategic Arrangement

In chapters with difficult syntax and/or multiple paradigms, vocabulary is limited. When syntax is easier and paradigms are fewer, then vocabulary is increased. This pattern is typically alternated from lesson to lesson.

ex.

  • Chapter 9: personal pronouns along with the special uses of αὐτός might overload the student, but there are only three vocabulary items: αὐτός, ἐγώ, σύ. 
  • Chapter 10: forms of the perfect and pluperfect are introduced, but no real vocabulary, just the perfect principal part.
  • Chapter 11: demonstrative pronouns, built on the forms learned in chapter 9, but accompanied by ~30 vocabulary words.

By arranging the material in this way, Black makes an effort to ensure that the student does not get overwhelmed by either syntax, vocabulary, or both as the semester progresses.

6) Parsing Chart

In the back of the book is an expandable parsing chart giving the student a look at the forms of the indicative, subjunctive, infinitive, imperative, and participles of both the ω and μι conjugations.

7) No Nonsense

Black reserves detailed syntactical discussions for Greek exegesis and focuses on Greek grammar. Only the details that are needed and will not obfuscate the main point are provided.

ex. Instead of embroiling himself in a detailed discussion of so-called deponent verbs, Black hints at fact that deponency is no longer viewed as a legitimate category. He nevertheless bypasses the discussion, giving the new student enough information without overwhelming him. 

8) And Much More

There’s a parsing answer key available for it here, a chapter that details some of the ways to apply your new knowledge of Greek, and review chapters, and a format that is aesthetically pleasing and makes isolating pertinent information easy.

Well, after all, it looks like I was able to do it in less than 140 characters—it only took 112:

Morphologically Drive, Exercises, Answer Key, Cheap, Strategic Arrangement, Parsing Chart, No Nonsense, And Much Much More

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4 Responses to Learn to Read New Testament Greek: A Brief Review

  1. Dave Black says:

    Hmm, I think I might try it out this semester.

    (Seriously, thank you for the kind review.)

  2. Reblogged this on συνεσταύρωμαι: living the crucified life and commented:
    I know that if I were ever to teach NT Greek this would absolutely be the grammar I would use…

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