Greek Grammar Book Order for Self Learning

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.
bo.bulger
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Greek Grammar Book Order for Self Learning

Post by bo.bulger » September 20th, 2017, 4:43 pm

Hello,

I read an article by Corey Keating at ntgreek.org titled "New Testament Greek Grammar Books" and I have a few questions I would like to get your thoughts on.

I have the following books and need some help to know which order is best to learn Greek and to continue on my Greek journey.

Basics of Biblical Greek - Mounce
Basics of Biblical Greek Workbook - Mounce
A Graded Reader of Biblical Greek - Mounce
A Summer Greek Reader - Goodrich
The Basics of New Testament Syntax - Wallace
New Testament Syntax Workbook - Wallace
Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics - Wallace
Biblical Greek Exegesis - Guthrie
The Student's Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament - Trenchard
Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek - Campbell
Morphology of Biblical Greek - Mounce
The Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament - Mounce

I understand Trenchard's Vocabulary Guide and Mounce's Analytical Lexicon to be reference books, and therefore not necessarily included in the order. I also have BDAG, NA28/UBS5, and Metzger's Commentary on Textual Criticism.

Following the order in the article, where would Goodrich, Guthrie, and Campbell's books fall among Mounce and Wallace? How would you order the list above for a self learner?

Where should I go after completing Morphology? Would it be useful to take up grammars by Robertson or Machen or Funk? Is there another book for advanced reading of the Greek New Testament? Would it be helpful to get a reader's version of NA28 for regular devotional reading?

Thanks for your help

Bo Bulger

Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Greek Grammar Book Order for Self Learning

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » September 21st, 2017, 3:18 am

bo.bulger wrote:
September 20th, 2017, 4:43 pm
Would it be helpful to get a reader's version of NA28 for regular devotional reading?
You can't go wrong with that (with NA28 or any other Greek edition) and it's the best service you can do for yourself if you use it regularly.

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Greek Grammar Book Order for Self Learning

Post by Jonathan Robie » September 21st, 2017, 10:06 am

bo.bulger wrote:
September 20th, 2017, 4:43 pm
Would it be helpful to get a reader's version of NA28 for regular devotional reading?
Absolutely, and the time you spend reading this is probably what will help you more than anything else. But you do need to learn the grammar too. I would focus on spending 30 minutes a day reading Greek, learning grammar and vocabulary as you go, working through a grammar.
bo.bulger wrote:
September 20th, 2017, 4:43 pm
I also have BDAG, NA28/UBS5, and Metzger's Commentary on Textual Criticism.
Excellent. You will never outgrow these.
bo.bulger wrote:
September 20th, 2017, 4:43 pm
Basics of Biblical Greek - Mounce
Basics of Biblical Greek Workbook - Mounce
A Graded Reader of Biblical Greek - Mounce
A Summer Greek Reader - Goodrich
These books are probably the most common books used to teach / learn biblical Greek. They have shortcomings - they focus on translating Greek into English rather than learning how to read Greek as Greek, the "devotional insights" in some of the chapters go beyond what you can legitimately claim based on the Greek, they are weak on tense and aspect (which are pretty important), they often define things in terms of lists of categories that describe possible English translations more than aspects of the Greek. But they are strong on morphology, will give you common ground with a lot of people.

David Alan Black's Learn to Read New Testament Greek seems more user friendly to me, and more oriented toward reading Greek in Greek. Does anyone know if there is a workbook for this?

Juan Coderch's Classical Greek: A New Grammar and the corresponding workbook also seem user friendly and very much about reading Greek in Greek.

Ideally, I would like to steer you toward living language approaches, that's easiest with a teacher. Randall Buth gets you through the beginning with his Living Koine Greek, Complete Introduction Set. Christophe Rico's Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living Language, Level One is a really impressive book, I am curious whether beginners could teach themselves from it or not, I have no experience with that, but this is a book I might well use if I were teaching a class (though I would use Buth's pronunciation) - there are some Youtube videos that go along with it.

I like Rodney Decker's graded reader, I don't know Goodrich, I assume it is similar.
bo.bulger wrote:
September 20th, 2017, 4:43 pm
The Student's Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament - Trenchard
Depends on your learning style, take a look at the book and see if you think you would learn from it.
bo.bulger wrote:
September 20th, 2017, 4:43 pm
Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek - Campbell
The easy way to get at tense and aspect is to read Rijksbaron's Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek. When you want more advanced treatment, I recommend The Greek Verb Revisited. I would read both of these before Campbell.
bo.bulger wrote:
September 20th, 2017, 4:43 pm
Where should I go after completing Morphology? Would it be useful to take up grammars by Robertson or Machen or Funk? Is there another book for advanced reading of the Greek New Testament? Would it be helpful to get a reader's version of NA28 for regular devotional reading?
Machen is a bunch of tables with inadequate explanations of the language. Funk is very useful. Robertson is also extremely useful, but hard to read - Smyth's grammar is much easier to read, more systematic, and very authoritative - I would get that first. I would get a copy of Blass, Debrunner, and Funk together with Smyth before Robertson.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Emma Ehrhardt
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Re: Greek Grammar Book Order for Self Learning

Post by Emma Ehrhardt » September 21st, 2017, 12:49 pm

Welcome to learning Greek, we're excited your starting on the journey with us!

The site you listed mentions "Please do NOT go out and purchase all of the books listed here.", and I would humbly submit that for someone just starting out in Greek, you really only need 2 or 3 things total for at least the first year of study: A beginner's grammar, and some Greek to read. Just like a beginning golfer sees no tangible benefit of fancy clubs or clothes or shoes, but rather makes the most gains by having some simple solid instruction in the fundamentals and lots of time actually golfing. When you're actually at an intermediate or advanced level, other gizmos and gadgets (aka advanced grammars and books about Greek) do play a role in your growth, but by far if your goal is to read Greek, you need to read Greek. It's awesome to be excited about learning Greek, but $ spent up front on "all the books I could ever need" isn't wise for most students. Too many try it for a season and do not continue past a year or two, and then they've just got books on their shelves collecting dust.

Here's my recommended self-learning progression, using the books you've listed as already having. I'm assuming your primary goal is to learn to read Greek comfortably, for personal devotions and study.

1) Basic intro to typical grammar and core vocabulary.
a) Basics of Biblical Greek (Book & Workbook). It's a solid introduction that will get you familiar with the core vocabulary needed for reading New Testament Greek, and walk you through basic grammar (by which I mean the forms words take to convey meaning, how words fit together and what effect that order has on meaning, and the various little functional words that glue sentences together). It maybe has a little more emphasis on memorizing forms and giving the "parse" information than I think is necessary ... your brain will take care of internalizing most of that as you spend time reading Greek.

2) Get reading! Read and re-read passages that are at your "reading level" until they're comfortable and familiar for you. Then level-up to the next difficulty.
a) Develop basic reading fluency using common vocabulary and simple sentences.
i) Read and re-read sentences from your first-year exercises, each time they'll be easier for you to read. (Note I say "read" and not "translate into English". And if you're using something other than BBG, please skip the "made-up" sentences about angels walking down the road; they don't get you more familiar with normal Greek.)
ii) I'm also developing a workbook that will fill this category. It provides about 10-20x the number of phrases and sentences as BBG, and consist ONLY of known vocabulary (so no time spent doing dict lookups of words you've never seen before). PM me (anyone!) if you're interested in being a beta tester.
b) Longer passages consisting of mostly known vocabulary. Here I recommend a Reader's Greek New Testament, where less familiar words are glossed at the bottom of the page.
i) New Testament passages that are easy to read (where 95% of the words occur 50x+ in the GNT): https://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vi ... =30&t=3012
ii) A Summer Greek Reader, or just the passages listed in it. I've not used this resource, but the fact that it has more vocab help than "A Graded Reader of Biblical Greek" means it fits in this early category.
c) Begin "extensive" reading to expose your self to additional vocabulary and get a taste of what future Greek study holds in store for you.
i) Read through John's gospel with a Reader's GNT. Don't stop to look up words you don't know very often, but just see how much of a sentence or paragraph you can understand just from what you already know. Ask yourself basic comprehension questions: Do I know the "who, what, where, when, etc?". Then go back and re-read an earlier passage. You'll be surprised at how much more you understand this time, and how some words you never intentionally memorized, you can now recognize.
ii) Next candidates could be 1 John, Revelation, or Mark. I also like the illustrated version of Mark as another way to help keep you in the story while you're reading (https://www.glossahouse.com/product-pag ... strated-nt).

3) Continue lots of reading, partnered with some explicit study of vocabulary and/or grammar.
a) Re-read texts that are familiar. You'll notice new things (just like reading your English Bible closely).
b) Read new texts that push your current level.
c) Memorize some less frequent vocab. Interact with an intermediate syntax/grammar and see how well (or not) it matches up with your intuitions about how the language works as you've encountered it in your own reading.
- Yes there is a ton of information there about the morphology, about the verbal system, about various details of syntactic constructions and how they're used, etc. But if your goal is to read Greek, read Greek. A balanced plate for intermediate students (in just my humble opinion) is something like 80% reading (reminder reading != translating), 15% vocab work, 5% grammar reading.

Best wishes & good luck!
Emma Ehrhardt
Computational Linguist

RandallButh
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Re: Greek Grammar Book Order for Self Learning

Post by RandallButh » September 21st, 2017, 1:28 pm

I did notice that the original list was heavily, and only, "grammar translation" in approach.

NT Studies seem to ignore the advice of the language specialists. It's probably a simple Inertia Factor, but that doesn't make it acceptable or excusable.
For example, the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages officially recommends that 90% of class time (or more!) is done IN THE LANGUAGE. In this case, that means "in Greek." That advice is based on research and will not go away, it can only be ignored by the NT teachers to everyone's loss.

And thank you Jonathan, for mentioning Living Koine Greek along with Polis. LKG was written for the self-learner with a focus on listening and laying a foundation in the language, although there is plenty of sophisticated explanation in English and in the footnotes.

Emma Ehrhardt
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Re: Greek Grammar Book Order for Self Learning

Post by Emma Ehrhardt » September 21st, 2017, 2:29 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
September 21st, 2017, 10:06 am
David Alan Black's Learn to Read New Testament Greek seems more user friendly to me, and more oriented toward reading Greek in Greek. Does anyone know if there is a workbook for this?
Technically yes, there is a corresponding workbook of the same name, by different authors. However I cannot in good faith recommend it. It's very heavy on "state this grammatical rule", "parse these forms", "translate these made-up nonsense sentences". Very little Greek text that is reflective of actual Koine style and content. My experience was that it adds very little beyond the practice sentences already included in Black's text.
Emma Ehrhardt
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Greek Grammar Book Order for Self Learning

Post by Jonathan Robie » September 21st, 2017, 4:30 pm

Emma Ehrhardt wrote:
September 21st, 2017, 12:49 pm
But if your goal is to read Greek, read Greek. A balanced plate for intermediate students (in just my humble opinion) is something like 80% reading (reminder reading != translating), 15% vocab work, 5% grammar reading.
What she said.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Greek Grammar Book Order for Self Learning

Post by Jonathan Robie » September 21st, 2017, 4:32 pm

RandallButh wrote:
September 21st, 2017, 1:28 pm
I did notice that the original list was heavily, and only, "grammar translation" in approach.
Yeah.
RandallButh wrote:
September 21st, 2017, 1:28 pm
NT Studies seem to ignore the advice of the language specialists. It's probably a simple Inertia Factor, but that doesn't make it acceptable or excusable.
For example, the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages officially recommends that 90% of class time (or more!) is done IN THE LANGUAGE. In this case, that means "in Greek." That advice is based on research and will not go away, it can only be ignored by the NT teachers to everyone's loss.
I think part of the problem is that there just aren't enough good resources for self-learners that take this approach.
RandallButh wrote:
September 21st, 2017, 1:28 pm
And thank you Jonathan, for mentioning Living Koine Greek along with Polis. LKG was written for the self-learner with a focus on listening and laying a foundation in the language, although there is plenty of sophisticated explanation in English and in the footnotes.
LKG was really the first resource along these lines. Thanks for producing it.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Greek Grammar Book Order for Self Learning

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » September 21st, 2017, 6:16 pm

I see this thread has progressed. I will go ahead and post understanding that my comments are somewhat superfluous at this point.

***************
There are different paths you can follow to study Greek. Half of the resources you listed represent but a single path. That path is worn down from centuries of constant use. Jonathan suggested a different path. Emma Ehrhardt’s suggestion that you focus on the reading and make an occasional sidetrip to the grammatical reference works is a good plan no matter what path you're on.

The well-worn path will reinforce mental habits you might later wish to unlearn. The second-language advocates will steer you away from the paralysis of analysis. Their goal is to help you experience the language, rather than dissected it. This is an admirable goal, somewhat difficult to realize without communities of native speakers.

There are other paths. Half a century ago E. V. N. Goetchius addressed the weaknesses of the well-worn path. Goetchius reduced grammatical metalanguage to the bare minimum. Anyone with 1950s high school English[1] already knew that metalanguage. He used pattern recognition extensively joined to principals from transformational grammar. His approach to morphology was very analytical.

Robert W. Funk’s hellenistic grammer (not BDF) is another departure from the well worn path. Funk’s treatment of syntax is a structuralist presentation of the data. I find this book useful in spite of the antiquated framework. Structuralism was buried long ago. I saw a young philologist from Europe rediscovering it on YouTube recently.

The collection of books you already own will keep you busy for a long time treading the well-worn path. If you stay on that path you will be comforted by many fellow travelers.


[1] I didn’t have 1950’s high school English. I had to learn it to study Greek.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

Emma Ehrhardt
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Re: Greek Grammar Book Order for Self Learning

Post by Emma Ehrhardt » September 21st, 2017, 6:48 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
September 21st, 2017, 6:16 pm
... focus on the reading and make an occasional sidetrip to the grammatical reference works ...
I like that wording and plan to steal it. Thanks! :)
Emma Ehrhardt
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