BMCR Review McLean, New Testament Greek: an Introduction

Textbooks, Graded Readers, Beginner Resources and links, Teaching aids, etc.

BMCR Review McLean, New Testament Greek: an Introduction

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 14th, 2012, 6:39 pm

The Bryn Mawr Classical Review has a review of a recent NT Greek textbook, B. H. McLean, New Testament Greek: an Introduction (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011) by Michel Buijs. http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2012/2012-12-26.html
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
Stephen Carlson
 
Posts: 1667
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Uppsala University

Re: BMCR Review McLean, New Testament Greek: an Introduction

Postby cwconrad » December 15th, 2012, 7:28 am

The review certainly isn't a glowing reception of a new primer, either. Why do teachers keep writing the same kinds of textbooks with the same tedious methodologies that have been tried and proven not to work, and why do publishers keep publishing them. I guess the answer is that they expect them to sell, but it's hard to be patient with this sort of judgment on the part of th editors and publishers. I acknowledge the desire of most beginning Greek teachers who enjoy teaching to write their own textbooks, but I abandoned that desire after seeing Funk's BIGHG and the JACT Reading Greek series. At least the BIGHG is now not far off from ready availability for the classroom. That's not an oral-aural immersion methodology, but it's aimed at reading skills and it's far, far better than the old-fashioned reading-translation methodology.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
ἄτοπον, ἔφη, λέγεις εἰκόνα καὶ δεσμώτας ἀτόπους.
ὁμοίους ἡμῖν, ἦν δʼ ἐγώ. Plato, Rep. 7 (515a)
cwconrad
 
Posts: 1111
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
Location: Burnsville, NC 28714

Re: BMCR Review McLean, New Testament Greek: an Introduction

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 15th, 2012, 11:41 am

I certainly recognize the temptation of a Greek teacher to write their own textbook. A couple of times, I have even fantasized about it myself. Readings the reviews of various textbooks on BMCR, it seems a common trope that a Greek teacher is always unsatisfied to some extent with the textbook. Thus, the temptation to do it oneself.

I'm more concerned about the publishers of these textbooks. The fact of the matter is that a couple of textbooks get the major market share (esp. Mounce in seminaries) and the result struggle to be noticed. Most of the time, it's hard to differentiate between them.

The reviewer has a good point here:

A new introduction to the grammar and syntax of New Testament Greek leads one to expect a textbook that will provide, in addition to the continuation of the good practice offered by existing course books, a new didactic approach, and an awareness of recent developments in the field of linguistics, especially in the case of New Testament Greek, where syntactic and pragmatic studies have proven to be not only numerous but also extremely fruitful over the past few decades. In the light of this expectation, this textbook is slightly disappointing.


I think if that one is going to come out with a new textbook, the latest (but not faddish) developments in the field should be incorporated. For example, the new view on voice evidence in Rutger Allan's work and your own, Carl. I recognize that it is a judgment call to distinguish between faddish ideas and more constructive ideas. Also, the field should be conceived to be larger than NT Greek. There's a lot of good stuff done for Classical Greek that Biblical Greek teachers should be aware of. The review touches upon some of that.

Perhaps there needs to be more time for this scholarship (especially coming out of the Netherlands) to filter down to the rest of the field, but I cannot see the justification for yet another textbook that does not reflect an understanding of pedagogy or Greek grammar more current than that of Mounce, Croy, or Wenham/Duff.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
Stephen Carlson
 
Posts: 1667
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Uppsala University

Re: BMCR Review McLean, New Testament Greek: an Introduction

Postby cwconrad » December 16th, 2012, 6:52 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:...
I think if that one is going to come out with a new textbook, the latest (but not faddish) developments in the field should be incorporated. For example, the new view on voice evidence in Rutger Allan's work and your own, Carl..


I'll just note here that Rod Decker's forthcoming beginning Koine textbook teaches middle voice in terms of the newer understanding of it. So does Micheal Palmer's online beginning Hellenistic Greek textbook (http://greek-language.com/grammar/), which is still not completed.

Stephen Carlson wrote:...
Also, the field should be conceived to be larger than NT Greek. There's a lot of good stuff done for Classical Greek that Biblical Greek teachers should be aware of. The review touches upon some of that.

Perhaps there needs to be more time for this scholarship (especially coming out of the Netherlands) to filter down to the rest of the field, but I cannot see the justification for yet another textbook that does not reflect an understanding of pedagogy or Greek grammar more current than that of Mounce, Croy, or Wenham/Duff.


By and large I think that the only recent concern of Greek linguistics that has had any impact on the teaching of Koine is the ferment over verbal aspect. One factor in Koine pedagogy is the deliberate limitation to a synchronic view of Hellenistic Greek. I can understand this to some extent, but it seems to me that the text of the NT itself offers abundant evidence that its language is a language in flux with older and newer morphological and syntactic usages well represented in it. Moreover the approach to Hellenistic Greek seems predicated on the assumption that the students in view will never be looking at any Greek texts beyond the Greek Bible.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
ἄτοπον, ἔφη, λέγεις εἰκόνα καὶ δεσμώτας ἀτόπους.
ὁμοίους ἡμῖν, ἦν δʼ ἐγώ. Plato, Rep. 7 (515a)
cwconrad
 
Posts: 1111
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
Location: Burnsville, NC 28714

Re: BMCR Review McLean, New Testament Greek: an Introduction

Postby MAubrey » December 16th, 2012, 8:39 pm

cwconrad wrote:By and large I think that the only recent concern of Greek linguistics that has had any impact on the teaching of Koine is the ferment over verbal aspect.

And in that instance, it's been a general flop--especially when you move from the actual grammars to how teachers try to teach these "new" ideas. Sure, some understand the system better, but instead of simply fixing the terminology, we've just introduced another set. So now in classrooms you're going to get things like this:

"The present tense is imperfective aspect and present time reference."

"Imperfective aspect means that the verb denotes that the action is somehow ongoing."

Before students just had to remember that "present tense" meant ongoing action & present time reference. Now they have to remember that present tense means imperfective aspect and present time reference and that imperfective aspect means "ongoing action."

That's right. 50% more terminology for students to learn for no reason at all. That's what I call an improvement. I can just see the weekly quiz questions now:

(1) What aspect does the present tense have?

(2) What does perfective aspect mean?

Brilliant.
Mike Aubrey
Canada Institute of Linguistics & Trinity Western University Graduate School
MAubrey
 
Posts: 600
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 8:52 pm
Location: British Columbia

Re: BMCR Review McLean, New Testament Greek: an Introduction

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 17th, 2012, 5:00 am

MAubrey wrote:I can just see the weekly quiz questions now:

(1) What aspect does the present tense have?

(2) What does perfective aspect mean?

Brilliant.


Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I've ever put grammar metalanguage questions on my weekly quizzes.

(When I taught aspect, I basically used the internal/external viewpoint metaphors for the imperfective/perfective (called present and aorist) respectively, metaphors which Comrie set forth in his book on aspect but also adapted by the usual suspects. I think this metaphor works OK for pedagogy but it is insufficient for more heavy-duty linguistics.)
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
Stephen Carlson
 
Posts: 1667
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Uppsala University

Re: BMCR Review McLean, New Testament Greek: an Introduction

Postby MAubrey » December 17th, 2012, 11:51 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I've ever put grammar metalanguage questions on my weekly quizzes.

No, and its likely most don't. I have a friend at a (not-to-be-named) seminary who has experienced this, though. The school uses graduate students for teaching 1st year Greek and his instructor is trying to be up on the recent discussions, but doesn't really know how to integrate the information in the class room well.
Mike Aubrey
Canada Institute of Linguistics & Trinity Western University Graduate School
MAubrey
 
Posts: 600
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 8:52 pm
Location: British Columbia


Return to Resources

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron