Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby Louis L Sorenson » February 21st, 2012, 10:19 pm

I always have thought that the greatest addition to Smyth would be to add a Koine section to each of Smyth's sections with notes on forms, and syntax, just like he has on Homer. It could be done as a wiki using the current Perseus version as a base. (Any takers?)

How does Smyth line up with Koine? Pretty well. There is about 95% of agreement between Attic and Koine. A list of the main differences can be found in an article by Jay Treat. I keep a Unicode copy at http://www.letsreadgreek.com/resources/treat_classical.html (with his permission). An example of the differences can be seen in the imperfect of εἰμί. This verb changed, and Smyth does not really note the differences. But Smyth does frequently refer to "Late Greek" which I think he intends to refer to the Koine era.

Smyth §768 (Attic)
Sing. 1 ἦ or ἦν
Sing. 2 ἦσθα
Sing. 3 ἦν
Dual 2 ἤστον
Dual 3 ἤστην
Plur. 1 ἦμεν
Plur. 2 ἦτε or ἦστε (rare)
Plur. 3 ἦσαν

Funk §405 (Koine)
Sing. 1 ἤμην
Sing. 2 ἦς, ἦσθα
Sing. 3 ἦν
Dual 2 (not used)
Dual 3 (not used)
Plur. 1 ἦμεν, ἤμεθα
Plur. 2 ἦτε
Plur. 3 ἦσαν

But other than Smyth's lacking presentation of the Koine verb εἰμί, almost all other verbs line up with Koine.

Blass De Brunner is a syntax. It does not contain any charts of forms. Smyth has both forms and Syntax and morphology. No grammar has a more complete review of numbers, relatives,adverbs, adjectives, etc. Smyth glosses all citations with English so the student knows what is intended. Mounce is a first year 'beginners' grammar. It does not cover everything. Funk's grammar (A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek) is available on the B-Greek website at http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/project/funk-grammar/pre-alpha/. Funk covers much more than Mounce, but is still lacking compared to Smyth. Things are changing with the internet. But it used to be that the student was left on his own -- and the place to go to find an answer was Smyth.

Smyth's order of presentation is what should be modeled by any complete grammar. His presentation of the verb is done by verb type (stem type), not by mood like Mounce does. It is a much better and more intuitive book for the student. I have no idea, sometimes, where to look for a verb form in Mounce. I always know where to look in Smyth.

The point that serious English speaking students of ancient Greek need to understand is that IF YOU DO NOT OWN SMYTH, OR DO NOT FREQUENT HIS GRAMMAR (electronic or book form), you are a mildly interested amateur and not really serious about really learning about the language. IMOHO.
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby MAubrey » February 21st, 2012, 10:27 pm

Louis L Sorenson wrote:Blass De Brunner is a syntax. It does not contain any charts of forms. Smyth has both forms and Syntax and morphology. No grammar has a more complete review of numbers, relatives,adverbs, adjectives, etc. Smyth glosses all citations with English so the student knows what is intended. Mounce is a first year 'beginners' grammar. It does not cover everything. Funk's grammar (A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek) is available on the B-Greek website at http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/project/funk-grammar/pre-alpha/. Funk covers much more than Mounce, but is still lacking compared to Smyth. Things are changing with the internet. But it used to be that the student was left on his own -- and the place to go to find an answer was Smyth.


I've always thought of Blass de Brunner as little more than a list, at least in the form we have in Funk's translation. It does technically cover morphology, but it only covers morphology as to where it differs from Classical--it assume you already have the charts in another book.

Louis L Sorenson wrote:The point that serious students of ancient Greek need to understand is that IF YOU DO NOT OWN SMYTH, AND DO NOT USE HIS GRAMMAR, you are a mildly interested amateur and not really serious about really learning about the language. IMOHO.


I don't own Smyth. I have it at the library when I want it and for the time being, my book budget is better spent elsewhere--on the specialist literature Rod spoke of previously. I'd like to own it eventually for reference, especially when I don't have access to a library any more, but its not a high priority because I own roughly 50 grammars already and another 50 specialized monographs on Greek.
Mike Aubrey
Canada Institute of Linguistics & Trinity Western University Graduate School
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby Louis L Sorenson » February 21st, 2012, 10:33 pm

[edited] Perhaps I spoke to strongly. I wrote "
IF YOU DO NOT OWN SMYTH, OR DO NOT FREQUENT HIS GRAMMAR (electronic or book form), you are a mildly interested amateur and not really serious about really learning about the language. IMOHO.

"The thing about Smyth is that it gives you a range of over 1000 years of Greek grammar, It gives you perspective. It's really unfortunate it has been ignored by Bible Colleges and Seminaries.
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby MAubrey » February 21st, 2012, 10:40 pm

Louis L Sorenson wrote:It's really unfortunate it has been ignored by Bible Colleges and Seminaries.


That is absolutely true.
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 21st, 2012, 11:57 pm

Here is some interesting advice about Smyth from the classicist William H. Calder, III, Men in Their Books: Studies in the Modern History of Classical Scholarship (2d ed.; Spudasmata 67; Zurich: Olms, 2002), 290:

Nock, a bachelor with a large library, gave me other good advice. “First buy texts, then lexica and indices, then commentaries and only then, if you can, secondary literature.” Dow’s advice was “Read the big books.” Prefer, he meant, Kühner-Gerth to Smyth, which was simply derivative and without independent value, RE to OCD. . . . I owe my library to the kindly advice of my teachers. None of the literary professors ever urged acquisition of books and none of their students ever acquired a library worth looking at.


With the advent of TLG online, I think the advice changes somewhat--if you include the online subscription.

Stephen
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby cwconrad » February 22nd, 2012, 9:03 am

I cannot adequately express how happy I am to see this outpouring of acknowledgment of the value of Smyth's grammar. There's not much that’s been said that I don't heartily endorse. Some of it I'd like to underscore and bring into the context of the current state of Biblical Greek pedagogy.

Two disturbing trends in the latter are (1) the abandonment of any expectation that seminary students should gain any real competence in Biblical Greek, and (2) the emerging consensus that Biblical software -- and in particular parsing guides and interlinear displays -- are sufficient stand-ins for that real competence in Biblical Greek. The one positive trend has been the emergence of real endeavors such as those spearheaded by Randall Buth and Daniel Sreett to teach the ancient languages as living languages in which students can and should think and communicate with each other; the big question is whether that has any real chance of catching on and spreading in the schools that matter. It may already be too late for that.

I was partly amused and partly saddened to learn that Rod Decker's discovery of Smyth's grammar was practically an accident, although I think that he would have discovered Smyth sooner or later somehow. In addition, I think that what's been said about BDF and the fact that (a) it isn't really up to date, and (b) it isn't really a full-scale Hellenistic Greek grammar, are related to another significant fact: for several decades now the authoritative academic voices in NT Greek have been insisting that the approach to Biblical Greek pedagogy and scholarship should be strictly synchronic. And the seminaries have accepted that and have ceased to insist that incoming students have an undergraduate grounding in Classical Greek. One consequence of all this is that, even if the funding were available now to underwrite the project of compiling a true Hellenistic Greek grammar, we might very well be hard put to assemble a body of competent teacher-scholars who could put together a Hellenistic Greek grammar even on the scope of Smyth. What I mean by that is a grammar that expounds Koine Greek morphology and syntax with a perspective on both earlier and later Greek morphology and usage, as Smyth expounds Classical Greek grammar with a look backward toward Homeric Greek and forward toward Hellenistic Greek.

I was extraordinarily fortunate half a century ago to have been baptized into ancient Greek by a graduate of Louisville Baptist Seminary who was still carrying forward the tradition of A.T. Robertson; he taught me Koine Greek as a Freshman at Tulane and then taught me Homeric Greek as a Sophomore.The switch from that first year to the second year was challenging indeed, but so very enlightening as to be priceless. There is no language (of those I know, at least) that has a sustained continuity of use over so many centuries as to remain the same even as it undergoes significant changes. One can, Heraclitus to the contrary notwithstanding, step in the same linguistic river more than once. However different the Greek written by the author of Mark's gospel may seem, it is the same language as that chanted by the Homeric rhapsodes and later penned by Byzantine monks and imperial secretaries. It may very well be that we cannot any one of us compass the length and breadth of that linguistic stream, but we do need to approach it as a language that has been in flux for many, many centuries.

The existence and the lively character of discussions in this forum is one of the more hopeful factors in the current pedagogical and scholarly arena wherein ancient Greek is in play. Ζήτω οὗτος ὁ διάλογος!
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby Jonathan Robie » February 22nd, 2012, 10:43 am

cwconrad wrote:I was partly amused and partly saddened to learn that Rod Decker's discovery of Smyth's grammar was practically an accident, although I think that he would have discovered Smyth sooner or later somehow. In addition, I think that what's been said about BDF and the fact that (a) it isn't really up to date, and (b) it isn't really a full-scale Hellenistic Greek grammar, are related to another significant fact: for several decades now the authoritative academic voices in NT Greek have been insisting that the approach to Biblical Greek pedagogy and scholarship should be strictly synchronic. And the seminaries have accepted that and have ceased to insist that incoming students have an undergraduate grounding in Classical Greek. One consequence of all this is that, even if the funding were available now to underwrite the project of compiling a true Hellenistic Greek grammar, we might very well be hard put to assemble a body of competent teacher-scholars who could put together a Hellenistic Greek grammar even on the scope of Smyth. What I mean by that is a grammar that expounds Koine Greek morphology and syntax with a perspective on both earlier and later Greek morphology and usage, as Smyth expounds Classical Greek grammar with a look backward toward Homeric Greek and forward toward Hellenistic Greek.


I would love to have such a grammar.

But couldn't someone like Rijksbaron write this, at least for verbs? I agree that this kind of expertise is scarce, but it does exist.

I think the current BDAG exists largely because of D. Not many people have the ability to read manuscript fragments and use them systematically to update a lexicon, not many have the ability to add real definitions to an entire New Testament Greek lexicon. One extraordinary individual can do a lot.

It's hard to predict where such an individual will come from. But it could well happen. The need is obvious.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby Jonathan Robie » February 22nd, 2012, 11:28 am

For perspective - do the classics people wish they had a Danker to work on LSJ?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby cwconrad » February 22nd, 2012, 12:31 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:For perspective - do the classics people wish they had a Danker to work on LSJ?


No, because the 1996 publication of the P. G. W. Glare Supplement has rendered AGreek-English Lexicon, Ninth Edition with a Revised Supplement, edd. Henry George Liddell, P. G. W. Glare, Anne A. Thompson, Robert Scott, all that could be hoped for for a few more decades yet. Here's the blurb to the Supplement: "Representing the culmination of 13 years' work, the new Revised Supplement to Liddell and Scott's magisterial Greek-English Lexicon is a complete replacement of the 1968 Supplement. Nearly twice the size of the 1968 edition with over 20,000 entries, it adds to the dictionary words and forms from papyri and inscriptions discovered between 1940 and the 1990s as well as a host of other revisions, updatings, and corrections to the main dictionary. Linear B forms are shown within entries for the first time, and the Revised Supplement gives the dictionary a date-range from 1200 BC to 600 AD. It is fully cross-referenced to the main text but additions have been designed to be easily used without constant reference to the main text."

Users of the hardcover edition consulting entries in the main body of the lexicon will find marks indicating where there is supplementary information in the appended Glare supplement. But the Logos implementation of LSJ-G incorporates the Glare material into the body of the lexicon. Logos is now accessible to Mac users like myself (my chief Biblical software is Accordance, but the Accordance LSJ is not yet available); I'm happy to have the Logos implementation of it, particularly because it has been made to work with all the Perseus texts recently released by Logos as a freebie. So: we are well-endowed for dictionaries with LSJ-G and BDAG. One might wish that E. A. Sophocles' Byzantine Lexicon were more readiy available or could be revised and updated, but that, I guess, is hardly to be expected. Tasks like the preparation of such reference works are monumental in scope, involving great costs and the labors of extraordinary scholars. Our era doesn't seem to offer a hopeful milieu for such an enterprise.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby Mark Lightman » February 22nd, 2012, 12:56 pm

Louis’ enthusiasm for Smyth over-bubbled thus: The point that serious English speaking students of ancient Greek need to understand is that IF YOU DO NOT OWN SMYTH, OR DO NOT FREQUENT HIS GRAMMAR (electronic or book form), you are a mildly interested amateur and not really serious about really learning about the language. IMOHO.

I like it. Sorenson’s “individual mandate.”

τὸ γὰρ Σμυθ ὠνητέον ἐστιν.

One of the things I appreciate about Smyth is that he is a good writer in English, concise and easy to understand, with minimal new jargon introduced. I would want his reviser to be thus. My breath I’m not holding.

Carl wrote: Ζήτω οὗτος ὁ διάλογος!


Okay, how many of you looked up ζήτω in Smyth? There it is at 395. 3 s. imperative of ζάω. (Is there anything this guy does NOT cover?) Smyth also tells you that as far as deponent (sorry, Carl) futures go, βιώσομαι is more common than ζήσομαι.

βιώσεται μὲν οὖν ὁ διάλογος ἡμῶν θελόντων.
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