The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Danny Zacharias
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Danny Zacharias » December 9th, 2015, 10:39 am

SCarlson et al, can I ask for your opinions on Wallace GGBB and accompanying workbook for intermediate? I have searched the forums and unless the search isn't working, there doesn't seem to be a lot of discussion on this text
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » December 9th, 2015, 2:01 pm

Danny Zacharias wrote:SCarlson et al, can I ask for your opinions on Wallace GGBB and accompanying workbook for intermediate? I have searched the forums and unless the search isn't working, there doesn't seem to be a lot of discussion on this text
You should search the archives in the late 90s

site:www.ibiblio.org "Wallace"

site:www.ibiblio.org GGBB

You will find plenty of discussion. The reason there isn't much discussion now is that the subject was seriously overworked by the early 2000s.
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Danny Zacharias
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Danny Zacharias » December 11th, 2015, 9:54 am

thank you Stirling, I appreciate your time.
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cwconrad
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by cwconrad » December 11th, 2015, 10:12 am

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
Danny Zacharias wrote:SCarlson et al, can I ask for your opinions on Wallace GGBB and accompanying workbook for intermediate? I have searched the forums and unless the search isn't working, there doesn't seem to be a lot of discussion on this text
You should search the archives in the late 90s

site:www.ibiblio.org "Wallace"

site:www.ibiblio.org GGBB

You will find plenty of discussion. The reason there isn't much discussion now is that the subject was seriously overworked by the early 2000s.
I'll add a summation that I think I've offered many times: there's actually quite a bit in GGBB that's good and worth consulting, but the (mine, at any rate) chief recurrent complaints are: (a) this grammar seems intended to assist the student in converting the Biblical Greek text into intelligible English, i.e. to produce a good English version, but it does not focus -- and clearly does not intend to focus -- on understanding how the Greek constructions functions as a Greek construction; and (b) an Aristotelian strategy of "divide and conquer" seems applied to every grammatical category: divisions and subdivisions and subdivisions thereof. We have frequently noted here the curious enumeration of subcategories of the adnominal genitive, including the puzzling puzzlement termed "aporetic genitive."
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » December 11th, 2015, 2:19 pm

cwconrad wrote:... an Aristotelian strategy of "divide and conquer" seems applied to every grammatical category: divisions and subdivisions and subdivisions thereof.
Which raises an interesting question. What counts as idiom? How do we discover idioms? I have been accused on a number of occasions of looking for idioms where they don't exist. GGBB has been accused of multiplying the idiom count beyond what has been the custom in traditional grammar. The advent of search engines combined with tagged texts of ancient languages has made idiom hunting a game of sorts. I've had one or more of these search engines installed since the 1992.

When I run across something that looks strange in a Greek Text my first inclination is to define a search and look for other examples to see if this is indeed a "pattern" found in other contexts. Patterns are just the way people speak and write in certain contexts. Finding a pattern is a preliminary stage which often doesn't result in conferring idiom status.

The lexicon is a tool for idiom research. If a word covers several pages of BDAG you can look at the subheadings to determine if that word forms special patterns. Advanced grammars are obviously a source for idiom research but you can't rely on them to be exhaustive. Furthermore, the advanced grammars that we have don't employ any of the modern linguistic methods of syntax analysis. That is my main objection to GGBB which was published late in the 1990s when there was a vast number linguistic treatments of NT Greek available from SIL, UBS and elsewhere. To simply ignore over half a century of research in NT Greek is a failure to do the job right.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 11th, 2015, 6:00 pm

Danny Zacharias wrote:SCarlson et al, can I ask for your opinions on Wallace GGBB and accompanying workbook for intermediate? I have searched the forums and unless the search isn't working, there doesn't seem to be a lot of discussion on this text
I don't have any experience with the intermediate workbook.

As for GGBB itself, I want to like it more but I just can't. It's really at the right scope and detail for an intermediate grammar, but there is so much about the approach that does not fit me. It has a large amount of categories, which in itself is a matter of taste, but there is very little guidance for discriminating among the categories except for auditioning English translations. I also disagree with many of the assignments to the categories and even as to some of the categories. The grammar also tends to avoid the very difficult cases in the NT, except for those with Christological implications. On the plus side, it seems rare that it omits a category, so exegetes can feel like they are not overlooking any possibilities.

For more difficult passages, BDF (or BDR) remains the standard. But it needs to be supplemented by something like Smyth. On the other hand, GGBB favorably compares in terms of coverage with the usual all-to-brief intermediate grammars of Porter, Brooks-Winbery, and Gildersleeve. I guess this make it the least bad option. On the article, GGBB is close to a full reference (i.e., not intermediate) grammar. Against all of them, I wish they were reasonably theoretically informed from a linguistics perspective. They are mainly pre-theoretical.

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.
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George F Somsel
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by George F Somsel » December 12th, 2015, 3:10 am

Like Stephen, I'm not familiar with the workbook and will not comment on that.

Wallace has been quite popular for some time, but we all know that popularity is not in itself a recommendation. One of the points that I find particularly irritating regarding Wallace is his "Key to Identification." In this section he frequently relies on how the reader would translate the passage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdQY7BusJNU He gives such "help" as
Before the dative insert the phrase because of or on the basis of.
or
A good rule of thumb is that verbs taking a dative direct object can usually be translated with to or in. Thus ὑπακούω can be translated, “I am obedient to,” διακονῶ can be rendered “I minister to,” εὐχαριστῶ can be translated as “I am thankful to,” πιστεύω can be rendered “I trust in.” (One has to use a little imagination with these verbs because they are normally rendered “I obey,” “I serve,” “I thank,” and “I believe.”)
Using one's own predilection for the translation of a passage seems to be a rather tenuous basis for determining the function of a form. I could concoct some rather perverse translations to justify whatever I wanted to consider something to be. Usually I would guess that how one would be inclined to translate a particular passage would be skewed toward whatever English translation one was accustomed to using which raises the question of whether one is actually gaining anything from PRETENDING to read the Greek. What Wallace does is to allow you to put a label on your choice of reading. It's really putting the cart before the horse.

As Stephen noted BDF and Smyth are tried and true grammars. I would add the rather extensive volume by A.T. Robertson. It reminds me of an old ad for Prego spaghetti sauce — "It's in there."
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gfsomsel



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Ken M. Penner
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Ken M. Penner » December 12th, 2015, 4:12 pm

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.
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St. Francis Xavier University

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » December 12th, 2015, 5:21 pm

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.
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Re: The Perennial Question: Best Intermediate Grammar Text?

Post by Ken M. Penner » December 12th, 2015, 5:39 pm

I'm surprised more hasn't been said about Funk's BIGHG here, considering b-greek's involvement in bringing it back into print.
http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/project/f ... pre-alpha/
And yes, Smyth is indispensable, at least for the teacher!
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