Best Greek NT Commentaries

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Re: Best Greek NT Commentaries

Postby Evan Blackmore » November 18th, 2012, 6:37 pm

In my darker moments I sometimes suspect that a lot of today's so-called "Greek text" commentaries are actually constructed mentally on English translations--the Greek being simply substituted before publication. In the bad old days, by contrast, most commentaries were written by scholars who had perceptibly been thinking in Greek since childhood, thanks to the bad old tradition of Classical education.

Here's one example that's fresh in my mind.

Last week, another thread on this forum discussed the role of the ἅμα in ἅμα σὺν αὑτοῖς ἀρπαγησόμεθα (1 Th 4:17). Does it form a kind of compound preposition with σὺν, or is it an adverb modifying ἀρπαγησόμεθα, or what?

Neither of the two recent "Greek text" commentaries on my shelves (WBC and NIGTC) even considered that question. The authors had mentally constructed their comments on the standard English rendering ("together with"), which poses no grammatical puzzles--and although they had then substituted the Greek ἅμα σὺν, they hadn't seen that it required some extra discussion.

By contrast, nearly all of the older commentaries--e.g. Milligan (Macmillan, 1908) and Frame (ICC, 1912)--had helpful discussions of the question.

Apart from the older commentaries already mentioned in this thread--Alford, Expositor's, Macmillan, ICC, CGT--I'd draw particular attention to Meyer and Wordsworth.

Meyer has all the strengths of the old German school, and examines with characteristic Germanic thoroughness all kinds of possible ways of reading the Greek. Even when they're self-evidently wrong, it can still be enlightening to ask oneself "Is this wrong? and if so, exactly why do I know it to be wrong?"

Wordsworth is briefer and sometimes wayward, but he's a breath of fresh air because he's one of the few commentators truly indifferent to current fashions. He's also one of the few who consistently pauses to ask "How did readers who wrote about this in the very earliest centuries understand it?" Modern scholarship places a premium on originality (you won't get published unless you say something that's never been said before), and therefore assumes all too easily that a view first proposed in 2012 is just as likely to be correct as a view first documented in 212.

I don't mean that all the older commentaries are good and all the newer ones bad. As has already been said in this thread, every multi-author series varies considerably in quality. (Everyone knows that the old ICC vols on Matt, Mark, and Heb fell well below the series standard, for differing reasons.) But many of the older commentaries have valuable technical comments on points of Greek, which have tended to be dropped from their successors--even the "Greek text" successors.
Evan Blackmore
Posts: 41
Joined: October 29th, 2012, 8:44 pm

Re: Best Greek NT Commentaries

Postby Evan Blackmore » November 18th, 2012, 7:47 pm


Another 19th-century series, which can occasionally be helpful on points of Greek not considered by more recent commentators, is Olshausen's (perhaps especially the volumes by Ebrard). There are also some useful non-series Greek text commentaries, e.g. Philippi on Romans and (especially) Delitzsch on Hebrews.

Nowadays all of these can freely be viewed at and downloaded from the Internet Archive (or, if you're in the USA, from Google Books).
Evan Blackmore
Posts: 41
Joined: October 29th, 2012, 8:44 pm


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