Back to issue

This new textbook for NT Greek is a full introduction, covering all the major components of a first-year course in depth. After preliminary material, the substance of the textbook consists of thirty chapters dealing with the alphabet, nouns, adjectives and pronouns, verbs, the article, prepositions, clauses, etc., in a logical order. Each chapter contains an outline of concepts to be covered and a lengthy and varied vocabulary list before dealing with a small number of topics. Paradigms are clearly laid out, and new concepts explained. After the main grammar chapters, there is a bibliography and then a full summary of verb formulas, verb endings, verb accents, paradigms, principal parts, a Greek-English vocabulary list, a subject index, and finally a quick grammatical index. The book is well-produced, with only a few printing errors (e.g., apparently a missing footnote [p. 131] and duplicated footnote references [p. 247n4]).

Each chapter of the Workbook contains exercises in using the material covered in the text, designed both to reinforce and extend a student’s knowledge of that material together with that previously dealt with. There are exercises in changing the format of words, as well as real sentences from the Greek NT to translate (with appropriate vocabulary help for words and constructions not yet dealt with). There is also a sizeable passage from the NT for translation, again with much needed assistance in the form of word lists. Footnotes in both text and Workbook add details for the interested student. The last part of the Workbook duplicates the text book material from the verb formulas to the vocabulary list, presumably for easy access.

There would be little point writing another first-year text book for NT Greek, if it were very similar to others already on the market. This text, however, is distinctive, so it may well fill a gap by adopting a somewhat different approach. For a first-year text, it is quite detailed, and the authors make no apology for that. Indeed, they suggest that some material, some of which is marked off by a shaded background, may be left for the second year of study if a student or lecturer considered that wise. They emphasise, however, that they want the student to have as full a list of vocabulary items and grammatical forms as possible, so that he or she can move on to reading the Greek NT as soon as possible without having to look up words very frequently. This is surely a good aim to have, although some may find the amount of detail given a little overwhelming, especially in the verbal paradigms that include a full treatment of the optative mood, for example. On the other hand, it explains the contractions that have resulted in the forms of words that occur in the NT, as much as possible, and this may well help students understand how the forms originated and perhaps make them easier to memorise.

Another distinctive of this book is the somewhat individualistic method of parsing, which again is more detailed than most texts of NT Greek. Its usefulness in detail may override its distinctiveness, although it might take some time for teachers to adapt to the more detailed system. Again, while accents are not always given a full treatment in such texts, the authors of this book clearly wish to provide as thorough a treatment of them as possible.

As one would expect, with Porter’s name as one of the authors, the matter of verbal aspect is dealt with in accord with his viewpoint on this important subject. Thus, the book is written from a perspective that is committed to the ‘tenses’ having reference to aspect and not to time at all. Thus, the imperfect tense is treated as a subcategory of the present tense, so that it ‘conveys imperfective verbal aspect . . . in narrative (or past-time)’ (p. 60), and the future tense does not refer to future time but ‘conveys expectation regarding an event’ (p. 81). This viewpoint is worked into the treatment of the text in a thorough manner, although this reviewer found a number of instances where time-reference seems to have crept back in. For example, the aorist tense-form ‘is not confined to reference to past time,’ but ‘this is its predominant textual usage’ (p. 84). Whether the notion of time-reference has been entirely excluded as thoroughly as seems to be required by some statements of theory is then a matter of debate. In the end, each student and teacher will need to decide whether they agree with this viewpoint about verbal aspect and find it theoretically and pedagogically viable and, hence, whether to attempt to teach and learn about verbs in the Greek NT using this book. Teachers will no doubt wish to review this book for classroom use since it has many strengths and treats a number of topics that are not normally given in such detail.

Alan Mugridge
Sydney Missionary and Bible College
Croydon, New South Wales, Australia

comments powered by Disqus