I've gone through Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide, I'm very satisfied with the book as a whole - but there are a number of areas where it could be improved for those who are using the book as a simple go-to grammar. Again, my criticisms are really a number of smaller issues (formatting, broader encompassing, explanatory explanations) than a condemning criticism. I like this book. I'd just like to have a few more items expanded, explained, glossed, clarified, ktl.
So here are my suggestions. I'm also sending these into Zondervan at their suggested email so that perhaps the 2nd edition could be just a little better. As with most Zondervan books, don't expect much of an Index of Terms. I guess that is something Zondervan prides itself on. UPS until 1990 never had power steering in their trucks; they were too frugal for that. (Of course, it took a UPS driver an extra 30 minutes a day to drive a truck without power steering, all at overtime rate). Those old UPS execs must have moved to Zondervan. Why make a reference book without a comprehensive index? Because it costs less. I just don't get it. Anyways, here is my wish list for improvements:
1. A list of conjunctions needs to be shown. I would like to see a list of the basic conjunctions (categorized) Add 1 page. Perhaps use Runge's list of Logical functions (DGGNT, p. 18).
2. There is no discussion of adverbs or how adverbs are often formed from the neuter singular of nouns or participles, or -ως, κτλ. Add 1 page. There are no quick lists of adverbs by category (e.g. time words, place words, position words).
3. The numbers δύο, τρεῖς, τεσσαρεις are not given in the number section (there is room - chart on p. 78 under Adjectives). Show all the declineable numbers.
4. The number chart (p. 11) does not show that the ordinals (e.g. πρῶτος) are usually declined like ἀγαθός, -ή, -όν. This could be done in a note.
5. The number chart does not show which characters represent which numbers. This could be done, alternatively on the Greek Alphabet chart (p. 1) as does Cadmen/Colwell/Tune's Reader's Grammar.
5a. The idiom κατὰ δύο or δύο δύο patterns are not given for distributive numbers 'by two'
6. The discussion of the middle voice (pp. 48-49) could use some updating. He classifies them as (1) Indirect middle, (2) Reflexive - direct- middle, (3) Redundant middle, (4) Deponent middle. But the overall explanation that the middle voice is subject based is not clearly emphasized.
7. There is no explanation of passive forms such as ἀπεκρίθην, ἐγέρθην being active in meaning. This is tied to the middle voice issue.
7a. There is no glossary of grammatical terms (as in Nunn's "A Short Syntax of the Greek New Testament". I've found this very useful, in addition to asking my students to buy Matthew S. Demoss' book: Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek.
7b. There are few internal links from syntax to chart. Such a references, e.g. "See this chart" would be very helpful.
7c. There could be better use of highlighting Greek/English counterparts to set off examples: E.g. p. 16, ἀρχῇ.
The tables are fairly complete. All adjectives and nouns have a MBG (Morphology of Biblical Greek) identifier (e.g. a-4b(2)).
8. This type of identification does help those who have MBG, but it does not explain the stem type. (e.g. Stems in -εσ-)
9. The noun charts have no article or gender attached to them. They are just a chart of forms preceded by the MBG identifier.
10. The charts have no glosses (as does Smyth's A Greek Grammar), so the student is left looking at a word with no English meaning.
11. The noun charts for the family words (πατήρ, μήτηρ, θυγάτηρ, ἀνήρ) is missing. Τhis chart is one of the basics used in active learning.
12. Pronouns: αὐτός, τίς are listed under adjectives, not pronouns or interrogative pronouns. - a little odd.
13. There is no section on interrogative pronouns.
14. There is no section on interrogative adverbs (e.g. ποῦ, πότε,) Smyth has a nifty chart (cf. §346) of correlatives. This is totally missing from BGACG.
14a. There is no chart of any interrogative questions: who?, when? where? why? how? how far? to what extent? how many? how much? how often? which one? what kind?
15. There are no charts for ἐκεῖνος, ἄλλος, nor a reference made to the fact that those words along with αὐτός, οὗτος are declined identically.
16 The pronoun section (ἐγώ, σύ, ὑμεῖς, ἡμεῖς) is stuck in the middle of adjectives. No mention of pronoun alternatives (the article), or ἐκεῖνος, ἀλλήλων, ἴδιος, σός, ἑμός, ἄλλος.
17. Interrogative pronouns are listed under adjectives (e.g. ὅστις (p.77), τίς (p. 80).
18. Verb charts are organized by tense (as in BBG), not by verb stem type (as in Smyth). There is no link from one verb's present indicative form to the next. No one necessarily knows that ἵστημι is related to στῶ. This type of pattern introduction (without a listing of the lemma above the forms or gloss) leaves the student lost - it is just another list of words out of context.
19. There is no list of irregular mi verbs: εἶμι, ἵημι, φημί, κεῖμαι, οἶδα, ἦμαι, κάθημαι, κτλ. as in Smyth. These words are basic, and being somewhat irregular, should be given in any simple reference grammar. They are used frequently in an active learning class.
19a. There is no list of comaparative/superlative adjectives (cf. Smyth §319).
Issues of Syntax
20. There is no discussion of semantic roles (actor, patient, agent, etc.). This is a very useful paradigm to use in deference to transitive/ intransitive. Modern linguistics has contributed to a clearer understanding of sentence and verb types. These newer definitions/classes should be incorporated.
21. There is a small mention of word order, (e.g. Sentence Structure: #2, #3 Emphasis.) I've found no better understanding of Greek word order than presented in Runge's Discourse Grammar (
22. There is little mention of Greek word order. I would like to see a small section explaining Simon <not Selma sic!> Dik's P1 P2 preverbal positions in regards to Greek word order. This makes a lot of sense to me. Cf. Runge, DGGNT, §9.2.5 ff.
23. The vocative case (Syntax pp. 25 ff) does not mention ὦ, which is a useful flag.
24. The sections on Questions (p. 50) makes no mention of the indicative mood. The subjuctive rhetorical/deliberative questions should be added here.
25. There is no discussion of relative clauses, or the way that the the relative's case will change depending on how it is used in the subordinate clause. (Kind of a gaping whole -- this is one of the basic sentence structures.
26. The section on Indirect Discourse (pp. 57-58) has almost no Greek examples, and does not clearly list the three ways Greek does this: (Participle: Σαμουὴλ οὔπω ἔγνω τὸν κύριον καλέσαντα αὐτόν; Infintive: ἐπέγνω Ηλι τὸν κύριον καλέσαι τὸν Σαμουήλ.; ὅτι clause: πιστεύω οπ/τι κέκληκάς με).
27. The idioms section could have a few more examples, starting with οἷον = "for example".
28. There is only one page of prepositions examples. The most frequent words being in a chart (the circle diagram) with no English gloss. There is no gloss, only arrows for the Greek chart prepositions.
28a. Some prepositions are not listed: e.g. περί + acc. = around; ὑπὲρ + acc..
28b. There is no mention that the dative with the prep usually has a stative idea, while the accusative has the idea of motion.
But in spite of these shortcomings, I highly recommend this book. I'm planning on making a simple appendix where needed, and perhaps printing up little sticky overlays which can be applied to blank areas in the existing pages. Mounce's "Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide" is a great simple resource. I recommend it highly (regardless of how I would like it improved.)