The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 13th, 2015, 8:48 am

Ken M. Penner wrote:Stephen expressed well what I was thinking:
Stephen Carlson wrote: I suppose my real issue is that I'm suspicious of a need for an intermediate grammar in the first place. Past the primer, I think students should invest immediately in the big reference books that will support them for the rest of their career. Competency should be attained by reading -- spending time in the text -- and one's reference grammar ought to be comprehensive enough to answer any question encountered during the reading. Getting specific books for an intermediate course that won't be of much benefit afterwards feels like the textbook churn that book publishers love.
Precisely what I was saying earlier. We should essentially become our own grammars -- that's what competency in the language means, even if we can't always affix a label to what we are seeing.
Stirling wrote:There were a number of years after my introduction with E.V.N. Goetchius when I made use of S. E. Porter 1992 and Richard A Young. I had BDF and ATR and Moule and Moulton-Turner during these years but found myself having difficulty digesting them. Really, these fellows wrote for an audience that no longer exists. Boys who studied classics in Greek and Latin in private boarding schools in the UK. I have a friend who attended one of those schools in Canada. The last time he was over for dinner he waxed eloquent on horrors of that experience.

I think that the distance between Mounce and and the current crop of reference grammars is a huge jump. Students need a bridge to traverse the canyon.
My heart bleeds for the poor boy... :( Of course, anytime students have a required curriculum, there are always some would have rather vacation on the surface of the planet Venus without a spacesuit than go through that curriculum.

No doubt the poverty of the modern educational system requires some revision of the materials. There is nearly universal agreement that while Wallace has it's good points, it's not the way to go. So, who's going to do it right, and what does doing it right mean?
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Louis L Sorenson
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Louis L Sorenson » December 13th, 2015, 8:49 am

From AT Robertson's "A Short Greek Grammar of the New Testament":
Three types of New Testament grammars are needed: a beginner's grammar for men who have had no Greek training, an advanced and complete grammar for scholars and more critical seminary work, an intermediate handy working grammar for men familiar with the elements of Greek both in school and in the pastorate. The busy pastor needs the Short Grammar. The text of this Grammar is that of Westcott and Hort with constant use of Nestle and Tischendorf. It is a satisfaction to note how commonly the excellent critical text of Nestle agrees with that of Westcott and Hort. The plan of the present grammar is determined

Paul-Nitz
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Paul-Nitz » December 14th, 2015, 7:14 am

Two Intermediate Grammars I like:

1. Coderch (see this post, and the previous page in the thread)
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1897&hilit=Coderch&start=10

2. Thompson (see this post)
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2987&hilit=+Thompson
Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi

Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » December 15th, 2015, 12:06 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote: I suppose my real issue is that I'm suspicious of a need for an intermediate grammar in the first place. Past the primer, I think students should invest immediately in the big reference books that will support them for the rest of their career. Competency should be attained by reading -- spending time in the text -- and one's reference grammar ought to be comprehensive enough to answer any question encountered during the reading. Getting specific books for an intermediate course that won't be of much benefit afterwards feels like the textbook churn that book publishers love.
There were a number of years after my introduction with E.V.N. Goetchius when I made use of S. E. Porter 1992 and Richard A Young. I had BDF and ATR and Moule and Moulton-Turner during these years but found myself having difficulty digesting them. Really, these fellows wrote for an audience that no longer exists. Boys who studied classics in Greek and Latin in private boarding schools in the UK. I have a friend who attended one of those schools in Canada. The last time he was over for dinner he waxed eloquent on horrors of that experience.

I think that the distance between Mounce and and the current crop of reference grammars is a huge jump. Students need a bridge to traverse the canyon.
I think Clay has it right, here. And I think what Wallace has provided is a very well laid out, orderly and accessible “beyond-the-basics” grammar. I can open Wallace and read a description with ample examples of the major topics a 2nd year student must master.

Students at this level can (and should) begin to use advanced resources and tools, but they still need to be able to pretend that Greek grammar is an orderly arrangement of reliable information. They still need to build basic concepts about the language, even while they are beginning to consider some of the instances where real language isn’t quite so tidy.

I understand the shortcomings and defects of Wallace, which have been set forward pretty clearly. What I don’t think has been identified so well is the strength of that work, a strength which has also been recognized here quite often. For me, the greatest virtue of Wallace is the excellent lay-out and excellent coverage of the basic topics which the intermediate student must master. By "excellent coverage" I mean simply that he addresses the questions intermediate students have, and he does so in a systematic, accessible, and 'digestible' manner.

I think it is possible to address the shortcomings (overemphasis on the English translation, over-categorization, wrong categorization, κτλ) while still providing a well designed and accessible intermediate Greek grammar for Koine Greek. Most moderns who learn the language, I suspect, are not interested in classical or Attic Greek at this stage in their learning. Even if that were not the case, however, those interested in learning Biblical Greek need a well designed intermediate grammar that is focussed on that expression of the language at this point in their development. That is what Wallace, with all its defects, has given them and that is why most of them, I suspect, still turn to that book first.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 15th, 2015, 7:35 pm

If that's your goal, the abridgment of Wallace, The Basics of New Testament Syntax, may be more appropriate. It has all the same categories but more compactly laid out so as not to give the (false) impression that it is comprehensive.

The fact of the matter is that our field (Koine Greek) lacks a reference grammar that is not a hundred years old. No one is producing this kind of a work any more, yet (inadequate) intermediate grammars continue to be published, perhaps because of the needs of seminaries' course sequences. But when one is done with the courses, there's nothing to rely on for solid work in NT Greek except BDF plus Smyth, which is what used to pass for an intermediate grammar in its day.

So I don't think the problem lies in not having a good intermediate grammar. I think the problem is that there is nothing current beyond it, and people rely on the last reference work they buy.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » December 16th, 2015, 2:00 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:If that's your goal, the abridgment of Wallace, The Basics of New Testament Syntax, may be more appropriate. It has all the same categories but more compactly laid out so as not to give the (false) impression that it is comprehensive.
Thank you for the suggestion of The Basics of New Testament Syntax. Looking at the reviews, I’m not sure that it would serve my purpose better than GGBB as it seems to drop some of the examples and is but a 'boiled down' version of the larger work. It might be just as effective for me to use GGBB while periodically issuing the necessary caveats.

My goal is to bring students to the place where they can read Biblical Greek text comfortably – reading it as a language rather than simply a code for English translation. Forming a Biblical Greek reading community is part of the strategy to accomplish that goal.

My students are lay men and women whose motive is a more perfect access to Scripture rather than learning an ancient language. They are mostly professionals (doctors, engineers, scientists, accountants, architects, pharmacists, businessmen) but they are serious students who’ve made a serious commitment (others don’t survive very long). There are also university students and others who are capable and motivated to learn Biblical Greek. Some, I expect, will go on to read Greek beyond the Biblical context, which I understand is necessary to become fully proficient in the language.
Stephen Carlson wrote:The fact of the matter is that our field (Koine Greek) lacks a reference grammar that is not a hundred years old. No one is producing this kind of a work any more, yet (inadequate) intermediate grammars continue to be published, perhaps because of the needs of seminaries' course sequences. But when one is done with the courses, there's nothing to rely on for solid work in NT Greek except BDF plus Smyth, which is what used to pass for an intermediate grammar in its day.
Yes. My needs are more modest.
Stephen Carlson wrote:So I don't think the problem lies in not having a good intermediate grammar. I think the problem is that there is nothing current beyond it, and people rely on the last reference work they buy.
In my context the need is indeed a good intermediate grammar. Clay said it exactly:
Stirling Bartholomew wrote:I think that the distance between Mounce and and the current crop of reference grammars is a huge jump. Students need a bridge to traverse the canyon.
My first two semesters focus on meta-language – pure and simple. I tell students they are learning about Greek – not Greek itself. I use Mounce, to which I add substantial enhancements and enrichments (and caveats). The 3rd semester and then 2nd year sees a dramatic change where we turn our focus to the text itself, begin to do much reading, and continue to teach grammar as the text demands. English to Greek composition and some communicative exercises are added at this point, primarily to kindle an awareness of the Greek text, and to alert students to how Koine Greek expresses concepts.

It is in this context that students need a solid, navigable, reliable grammar beyond the Mounce level. Smyth is too much for them. Their knowledge of basic grammar is still rudimentary and incomplete. For better or for worse, this is the gap which GGBB has filled over the past quarter century. An improved and refined GGBB would find an immediate market. Someone(s) should write it.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 16th, 2015, 3:49 pm

To me, Funk's grammar fits in the same slot as GGBB, and I like it better. I take it you prefer GGBB to Funk?
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Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » December 16th, 2015, 4:04 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:To me, Funk's grammar fits in the same slot as GGBB, and I like it better. I take it you prefer GGBB to Funk?
I like funk as a reference, and I actually teach some of the concepts from his introduction and early chapters while teaching Mounce. However, I have not found him to be a good replacement for GGBB as the go-to grammar for students who've just completed Mounce. Maybe it's style and terminology. I'll have to look at Funk again and think about that. Certainly the organization of Wallace is very good in my opinion - or at least it is what the intermediate student who has used Mounce can easily relate to.
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