Ironing Out Syntax: a book review

Most books are meant to be read. Other books, like this one, help you to read. A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament is designed to “assist readers of the Greek new Testament by providing brief explanations of advanced  and intermediate syntactical features of the Greek text” (7). Charles Lee Irons, the current director of research administration at Charles Drew University and an ordained Presbyterian pastor, compiled this resource “to encourage students, pastors and others to devote themselves to reading large portions of Greek New Testament, and ideally, all of it” (8).

syntaxironsPicking up where parsing tools, readers editions, readers lexica, and Bible software leaves off, Irons aims to iron out difficult syntax and text critical issues. A Syntax Guide follows closely critical editions of the 27th and 28th Editions of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece.

The guide is comprehensive with more than six-hundred pages of textual notes, plus indexes. Though it is not exhaustive, because Irons focuses solely on advanced issues. Some verses are skipped past without any comment and with other verses, Irons comments on a single word or phrase. Still there is enough here to give an intermediate student of Greek an at-a-glance aid to translating and understanding the passage before her. A mid level grammar (i.e. Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics), a critical apparatus and a good lexicon will unearth all the essential lexical issues with greater detail than this; however, what Irons has done is provide a quick resource for students and readers of the Greek New Testament, with references to the lexicons (most often BDAG),  grammars and other resources for those who want to dig deeper.

Most importantly, this is a small book–about the same size of your Greek New Testament. You can take this and your Nestle-Aland to Starbucks and make serious headway on the text, instead of bringing a whole library of heavy text books with you.   Anyone who has wrestled out a translation of Greek as sermon prep, for a paper or devotionally will benefit from this resource. I give it four stars.

Note: I received this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for my honest review.

 

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