Afternoon Workspace

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Black’s Newest Book

I’m excited to see my mentor’s new book Running My Race now out and for sale. I was lucky enough to win a copy from his blog and it just arrived in the mail. I can’t wait to dig in and learn from the man who has taught me a great deal about life, teaching, and research. I’m thrilled to get the chance to learn once again.

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Congrats to Thomas Hudgins

img_9639My good friend Thomas Hudgins has just successfully defended his PhD dissertation. Hop on over to his blog to read about it and congratulate him!

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Book Announcement: Into the Deep

14502974_10154665372387566_6116061148018358024_nI’m excited to let you know that my Masters of Theology thesis Into the Deep: A Comparative Discourse Analysis of the Masoretic and Septuagint Versions of Jonah has been published by GlossaHouse. You can get it at a very reasonable price—only $15.99. Here’s a description provided for the work:

This study of Jonah utilizes discourse analysis to draw out both major and minor differences between the Greek (Septuagint) and Hebrew text forms of this ancient work. Specifically, it places emphasis on intentional and/or unintentional translational differences that have influenced Jonah’s meaning and rhetoric. Into the Deep explores and exposes numerous difficulties encountered when translating literature, such as the prospect of altering a text’s unique characteristics. Insofar as all translation is an act of interpretation, Into the Deep also impresses upon the reader the enduring value of early translations as primitive commentaries.

Help feed my family by picking up a couple volumes. After all, who needs just one copy?

Posted in Biblical Studies, Discourse Analysis, Greek, Hebrew, Jonah, LXX | 5 Comments

Logos 7 Is Here

Twitter_440x220_ProfThe long wait is over. Logos 7 has arrived. At 8:00AM PT, Logos will be hosting a live event to walk you through some of the new innovations, benefits of the Logos 7 platform, and more. I’m thrilled to see the work I’ve helped put into this product—tutorials, the systematic theologies interactive and dataset, and some contributions to the Clementine Vulgate revers interlinear— finally released. I’m also thrilled about adding more books to me library. I hope you’re excited as well!

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So You Want to Learn German?

After about a week and a half of being in Germany, I thought I would offer some quick, sophomoric tips on how to improve your German.

Immersion is the best way to learn. And it isn’t just about the fact that you have to engage in conversations on a daily basis. I found that it is also because—even when you have absolutely no interaction with others whatsoever—a walk to and from the store is an opportunity to learn. It happens constantly.

Street signs, elevator postings, advertisements, paperwork, etc. are encounters with the language and opportunities to learn. You quickly learn that the sign posted to the elevator in red and with fire in the background that says “Aufzug im Brandfall nicht benutzen” means “In case of a fire, don’t use the elevator.” The signs in the grass that say “Spielen auf dem Rasen ist verboten” is quite relevant for your 3 year old boy that wants to play everywhere. If you don’t want inquisitive stares, you better know that “playing on the grass is forbidden.”

Each of these encounters adds to your vocabulary. Each encounter strengthens your syntax. Each encounter is an opportunity to swim instead of give up, take refuge in yourself, and refuse to assimilate into your new environment.

41bp15dz1vl-_sx317_bo1204203200_But there is another good way to learn the language: Use a dictionary. I’ve posted before about the great tools available with Google Translate and Duolingo. They are still excellent tools, which I would advise you use. And yet, ever since I purchased a PHYSICAL dictionary, I found that I was engaged in an entirely different exercise than quickly looking up words on Google translate. To look up a word in a physical dictionary, you must know what that word is and repeat it to yourself before starting your search. As you get closer to the word, you repeat it again. Finally, when you are certain you have found it, you repeat it in your mind, look back at the text you’re reading and confirm that it is in fact the word you were looking for. All this repetition functions as a memory aid. Now, when you read the definition of the word, you’re primed to remember the both it and its definition. Looking a word up on the computer shortchanges this process.

41a3h0-f2rl-_sx350_bo1204203200_Finally, I was informed by a good friend, tour guide, and mentor that the TestDAF permits the use of only one dictionary: Langenscheidt Großwörterbuch: Deutsch als Fremdsprache. It’s a German to German dictionary, and the very thought of using it was intimidating to me. I wouldn’t have even purchased the thing except I knew that it would be a required text for a test I was required to pass. After it sat on the shelf for a few days, I decided to start using it here and there as I read the day’s German newspaper (slowly, I might add). Come to find out, the definitions are rather simple to translate and helped reinforce the German I already know, learn synonyms of the word I’m looking up, provide me with confidence going forward, and give me a definition within the native language—a fact I think we all know is better than relying on a definition given by an entirely different language.

Oh, and that reminds me—read newspapers. They are accessible texts written for a large audience that will give you practice in the language, expand your vocabulary, and reinforce your understanding of its syntax.

If you’re like me, you have a long way to go. But along the way, have fun. And as always, happy language learning!

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New Reading

I met my Doktorvater today! I couldn’t stop thinking to myself, “Moving my family halfway across the world to study in a city I’ve never visited with a professor I’ve never met in person was the right decision.” Du Toit is relaxed, welcoming, encouraging, and brilliant.

After our meeting, he gave me a stack of essays and a book—all of which are his recent publications. Looks like I have a bit of reading to do over the next couple of months.

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Only Fitting

It seemed only fitting that I get lunch with my mentor and friend, Dr. David Alan Black before following in his footsteps to a German speaking nation in pursuit of a PhD

I can not begin to express how much he has done for me and how much I have learned from him. I am who I am today because of his humility in the classroom and his unwillingness to settle for less than his students are capable of giving.

We concluded the afternoon with a trip to his library where he gave me two German commentaries:

There was no way he was letting me leave the country without giving me another assignment!

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Cerone’s Travels and PhD Studies at LMU

img_4997-1It just occurred to me, dear reader, that I haven’t mentioned on this blog that the Cerone family is in the middle of a tumultuous time. We have left Bellingham—the remnant of that lost Garden of Eden—to spend a month with family and friends in North Carolina before setting sail . . . er . . . flying to Munich Germany. I have been accepted to study at the Ludwig Maximilians Universität. My first semester will begin in October, but I will be taking two language intensives before beginning. The first will be in August, and the second in September. It will be a busy time of life, to say the very least.

Nevertheless, we’re very much looking forward to this next stage, and we covet your prayers as we prepare for our departure in July. If you are interested in following our journey to Munich, you can follow our family blog at The sixteen legs, by the way, are two adults, two children, and two dogs. We do not have, as some have asked with astonishment, six children.

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Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: A Review

51ZcbZ2h4ML._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_There’s simply no good textbook for third semester Greek. Yes, there are excellent grammars, intermediate grammars, workbooks, and more. Some of the standards, in my opinion, are David Alan Black’s It’s Still Greek to Me, Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Herbert Bateman’s A Workbook for Intermediate Greek, and several others. Each of these works has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. I own them all. I use them all. I was taught in various Greek courses with them all. And I unequivocally recommend each one of them.

But when I started teaching Greek at my local church, I encountered a host of problems. The first was, “How do I teach Greek in a manner that keeps the class interesting for students that want to reap the benefits of knowing Greek but must plod through the difficult task of learning the language’s grammar?”

I accomplished this task by adapting paragraphs from the Greek New Testament to where we were in the course and what I thought the class could handle. I brought in word study resources to teach my students about what they were, how to use them, and how to do word studies while side-stepping the most blatant fallacies. In other words, I had to bring some of the hermeneutical and exegetical principles in the first and second semester Greek that wasn’t necessary in an academic setting. After all, the students paid to take Greek in an academic setting, they had assigned grades, they had degree requirements. In sum, they had a weight of external motivation that could overcome almost any lacking internal motivation.

However, after learning the basics of the grammar and providing insights and incentives along the way, I couldn’t help but wonder what textbook I should use when moving to third semester Greek. I couldn’t rightly ask my students—who were purely internally motivated—to sit down, read, and memorize Wallace’s 30 uses of the genitive. I couldn’t require them to use Bateman’s Workbook. While I dearly love this resource—Bateman himself taught me from it during my Moody days—my church didn’t have access to all the resources needed to effectively use it. In essence, my students would need to have access to a seminary library, or build their own.

What resource would I use to teach exegesis, syntax, and vocabulary in a way that inductively walked my students through substantial New Testament passages? Sadly, I never got to make that decision. We moved to Washington to start a job with Faithlife before I had the opportunity to assemble a variety of texts that would accomplish my purposes.

However, if I were to teach that class today, I would use Köstenberger, Merkle, and Plummer’s Going Deeper with New Testament Greek. You honestly don’t want to pass up on this resource.

The book retails at $49.99, but you can get it on Amazon for $30. And for everything it contains, the book is a steal!

Each chapter begins by orienting the reader around the importance of the topics discussed. Why is it important to learn about the syntax of the nominative case? Readers are anecdotally introduced to the Colwell’s rule and its importance to the interpretation of John 1:1. Why are tense and aspect important for understanding New Testament Greek? We’re introduced to one commentator’s faulty belief—on the basis of outdated linguistic arguments—that the present subjunctive indicates that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a permanent instead of temporary affliction (the aorist subjunctive). The content of the chapter is intimately connected with its significance for interpretation.

We cannot overlook the importance of connecting what we’re teaching with why we are teaching it. Sure, some bright students might catch on. But the authors of Going Deeper know we can do better than that, and they do it.

After orienting the reader around the significance of the chapter they are studying, the authors provide us with that chapter’s objectives. At no point do we get lost. The authors tell us where we are and where we’re going.

Now we’re ready to dive into the content of the chapter. If you’ve ever studied Greek syntax, you know that the proliferation of categorized usages of a specific case, tense, voice, mood can be overwhelming. Not only does Going Deeper cut down on the number of specialized uses of, for instance, the genitive, they also provide a helpful taxonomy of how certain usages relate to others. Notice how the authors helpfully classify  the genitive according to adjectival uses, verbal uses, adverbial uses, and the catch all “other uses”:


When learning the syntax for each usage, we find 3–5 examples (in Greek) accompanied by English translations that have the relevant piece of information bolded. The student doesn’t have to guess at which piece of the example sentence is relevant to the discussion.

One of the most valuable sections of the book can be found in the summary of each chapter. There you’ll find a table containing every syntactical usage discussed in the chapter, a brief description/definition, and an example with translation. If I were a student taking a final with this textbook, I’d copy the summary pages, laminate them, and use them for my exam prep cheat sheet.

As if this isn’t enough, Going Deeper provides you with exercises, vocabulary lists that take us down to 15 uses in the New Testament, a Greek reader (selected passages from the New Testament), and reading notes on that passage that walk us through the relevant morphological and syntactical details pertaining to that passage, which takes the form of an expanded version of Robert Plummer’s Daily Dose of Greek.

Finally, don’t forget to read the footnotes. The author’s not only provide relevant details about Greek syntax, they also provide links to free resources to expand your knowledge as well as paid resources like Bible Study Software. It’s abundantly clear that their goal is to teach New Testament Greek and to provide students with every resource they need to learn it.

Though the majority of the work is excellent, there are few places where I have some qualms.

First, in chapter 12 on “Pronouns, Conjunctions, Adverbs & Particles” we find that γάρ is counted among both coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. On page 413, the authors say that, as a coordinating conjunction, it functions to provide further explanation. On the same page, we find them saying, “The most common Greek subordinating conjunctions employed with indicative verbs (in decreasing frequency) are ὅτι (“that,” “because”); εί (“if”); καθώς (“just as”); ὡς (“as,” “like”); γάρ (“because,” “since”) . . . “(413). However, to my knowledge γάρ is exclusively a coordinating conjunction and does not function as a subordinator.

  • BDF, while acknowledging the causative sense of γάρ—as also Going Deeper—lists it as a Causal Co-Ordinating Conjunction (235). No where does BDF list it as a causal subordinating conjunction (239).
  • Robertson lists γάρ as a paratactic inferential conjunction (1190).
  • Wallace lists it as a coordinating conjunction with an explanatory sense (657), but no where includes it in his “Classification of Dependent Clauses” portion of the grammar (658). [edit: Per Rob Plummer’s comment below, Wallace does include γάρ as a subordinating conjunction on page 669.]

It’s important here to make a note about the difference between the discourse and syntactic function of γάρ. Claiming that γάρ is never a syntactic subordinator does not mean that it introduces a clause that functions as a mainline proposition within the discourse. As a matter of fact, Runge lists γάρ as a conjunction that maintains continuity with what has already been said in the discourse, but that it has the constraint of supporting that which has come before it. Runge writes:

In other words, the information introduced does not advance the discourse but adds background information that strengthens or supports what precedes. Black also correlates the use of γάρ with background information, noting a tendency for it to be used with forms of εἰμί and imperfect-tense forms. She states, “Γάρ is used to direct the audience to strengthen a preceding proposition, confirming it as part of the mental representation they construct of the discourse” (Discourse Grammar, 52).

My second qualm with the volume as it stands can be found in chapter 13 “Sentences, Diagramming & Discourse Analysis.” Within the section on “Word Order in Sentences,” we get a peek into the debate over word order. Is Koine Greek primarily a Verb Subject Object language or a Subject Verb Object language?

The authors notes that the traditional understanding of Greek has suggested that it is a VSO language. They then turn to acknowledge that Porter “is right to call this claim into question” (448). After summarizing Porter’s main issue with viewing Greek as a VSO language, Going Deeper concludes:

Such caveats about individual stylistic differences must be kept in mind even as we tentatively make some observations about regular word order in the GNT. Below is a chart which lists possible emphatic orders (i.e., word orders that deviate from the norm). Context must clarify the purpose of the deviation. Possibly a new topic is being introduced, or a contrast is being drawn. Only the literary context can clarify the author’s purpose in deviating from typical Greek word order. The exegete should also consider the possibility that an ancient author is unconsciously varying his style (449).

Unfortunately, there are several things wrong with this statement, the previous discussion, and the subsequent chart. First, the authors of the volume take no firm conclusion on the matter of typical word order. They conclude giving Porter the last word, while noting that variations in an author’s style may affect that particular author’s formulations. But the subsequent chart is largely based on Black’s suggestions for possible emphatic word orders. Black, however, contends for VSO as unmarked Greek word order. So, which is it: VSO, SVO, or some other variation?

This is not an insignificant point. It is impossible for the authors of Going Deeper to provide us with a list of emphatic constructions if they do not tell us what the default construction is.

Important, the default word order is.

Furthermore, the second example in the provided table doesn’t illustrate the suggested emphatic word order:


While the subject is in front of the verb, the direct object precedes both the subject and the verb. How does this affect the suggested word order?

My final qualm, and this is truly nitpicky, is the manner in which the authors conclude their discussion of discourse. After talking about the importance of cohesion and the work that Steve Runge has performed within this area of study, the authors write:

One of the main scholars effectively bridging insights from discourse analysis to non-specialists is Steven Runge, who produced an accessible grammar teaching some principles of discourse analysis. Runge also served as the editor of the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament and the Lexham High Definition New Testament . . . . These resources mark discourse features in every verse in the NT. While we have little confidence that pastors will ever use terms like “sequential head,” “conjoining head,” and “alternating head,” we do look forward to helpful insights from discourse analysis finding their way into the preaching of the church” (461).

The last sentence has absolutely nothing to do with the work Runge has produced. These terms are nowhere found in his literature. I understand that it is intended as a summary for the discussion on discourse analysis at large, but in a paragraph about cohesion, it is ironic that this sentence lacks it with the rest of the content!

Despite these critiques, I believe that Going Deeper is a tour de force that will readily be deployed in Greek 3 courses. I know of several professors rewriting their syllabus to incorporate this much needed and welcome work. I, for one, look forward to teaching in the local church and seminary again and using Going Deeper as my go to work.

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