Getting Me to the Greek: a book review

Whenever I review a resource on New Testament Greek, I begin with the admission:  my Greek is terrible. In seminary I took two years of Hebrew and only learned enough Greek to scrape out an exegesis assignment. Greek was the language of philosophy. Hebrew was the language of poets and prophets. That is a huge difference.

9780825444791But of course Greek is also the language of the New Testament, and despite my linguistic preference, the words of Jesus are coded in Koine. So when I preach through a New Testament passage, I find myself struggling through translating it (often with assistance from Bible Software with its virtual stack of lexicons). I am no expert. I do little more than play in the language, but I have picked up a few things along the way about Greek verbs and syntax and how the language functions.

I don’t know much (♬but I know I love you . . . ♬) and to read New Testament Greek, I need help. All kinds of help.  Kregel Academic publishes a number of student aids designed to help people like me who struggle with Greek. I previously reviewed The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek (2012)  by Douglas Huffman. That book offered a nice beginners summary of Greek grammar, syntax and a good discussion of how to sentence diagram. Now a new ‘Handy Guide’ delves into deeper waters. The Handy Guide to Difficult and Irregular Greek Verbs: Aids for Readers of the Greek New Testament is designed to help us strugglers to wrestle through difficult vocabulary. Jon C. Laansma and Randal Gauthier have compiled a resource to help students of Greek move beyond the basics and begin reading.

This is a ‘handy guide’ and short. It is an 80 page paperback booklet which you can put inside the cover of Nestle-Aland28 to use as a reader-aid on the go. The booklet divides into two parts. Part I lists difficult and irregular verbs (difficult & irregular, from the perspective of beginners) in (usually) their indicative forms from most frequent (>200x) to least frequent (>10x), with a brief translation. Part II, provides an alphabetical list of verbs with their compounds (including forms that only appear once or twice in the New Testament)(27).

Laansma and Gauthier aim at enabling readers to identify the principle parts of various verb forms: (1) present & imperfect, (2)future active & middle, (3) aorist active and middle, (4) perfect and pluperfect active, (5) perfect and pluperfect middle and passive, (6) aorist and future passive). So if you locate a verb in the list (in its indicative, dictionary form), you will discover each of the six forms (or the forms that appear in the NT), with most common tenses in bold font. So when you encounter a strange form (to our eyes), their Part II gives us an at-a-glance reference to the verb forms.

This is pretty useful little book for students, working pastors or those struggling through reading the New Testament devotionally. I give this four stars. – ★★★★

Notice of Material connection, I received a copy of this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for my honest review.

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