Best way into Paul?

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.

Best way into Paul?

Postby richclarkson » March 8th, 2013, 6:25 pm

Hi everyone,
I'm in my second year at Theological college and have just finished an intermediate Greek course where we were mostly translating Mark and John with a few bits of Paul thrown in. In Advanced Greek next year we will be mainly working through 2 Corinthians but there are a few months between the courses and I would like to use the time to get a bit more used to Paul's writing style (the few bits we have done so far have convinced me that it is something of a step up from Mark!). Ideally I would like to begin by working through one of the shorter letters, Are there any that you would recommend as a good way into Paul?
Thanks in advance! Rich
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Re: Best way into Paul?

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 9th, 2013, 3:44 am

Maybe it's because it was the topic of my dissertation, but I'm partial to Galatians as an entrance into Paul.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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Re: Best way into Paul?

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » March 9th, 2013, 5:35 pm

Why not Galatians indeed? I'm going through it with Schreiner's commentary which gives some useful help for Greek, even though Schreiner isn't linguistically as astute as I want a commentator to be. As for Greek Galatians isn't the most difficult from Paul (or of so-called undisputed or disputed Pauline letters). You have to remember that different letters have different "styles", so it's impossible to say that any one is a good introduction to all of Paul's language. A letter may reflect Paul's own style or some scribe's or someone else's. You can detect differences if you read them all through quickly. But I think you can't go too wrong with Galatians.
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Re: Best way into Paul?

Postby Justin Cofer » March 9th, 2013, 9:40 pm

As discussed above, you really can't go wrong with Galatians. But allow me to offer the way I started with Paul -- with Philemon. Its really short so it doesn't seem overwhelming. You can use O'Brien, Moo, Harris or Bruce as a guide. I found Colossians pretty easy to read after Philemon.
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Re: Best way into Paul?

Postby Louis L Sorenson » March 9th, 2013, 11:13 pm

My first class after intro was Galatians. The book really stuck with me through the years, so I would also recommend it for a Pauline starter. We used Hendricksen's commentary (ca.1968) or a reprint in 1977. Galatians is an emotive-packed epistle. Those strong feelings of the author will help you internalize the Greek (it's not like reading the geneologies or narratives - Paul contains neither genre, but does talk about his past actions in a narrative fashion which is easier to read.) The text is in your face and confrontational. It contains numerous rhetorical devices, μέν...δέ constructions, numerous imperatives, rhetorical questions, contrary to fact statements, etc., quotations from the OT and midrash on them. So it has more features than shorter works like Philemon.

Make sure you get a good commentary, nowadays there is an NIGTC (New International Greek Testament Commentary) by F.F. Bruce
http://www.amazon.com/Epistle-Galatians-International-Testament-Commentary/dp/0802823874. Also the Word Biblical Commentary 41 by Longenecker http://www.amazon.com/Word-Biblical-Commentary-Vol-Galatians/dp/0849902401/. Both of those will deal with the Greek text. The old ICC commentary by William De Witt Burton https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=e1Q2h5tCWv8C&rdid=book-e1Q2h5tCWv8C&rdot=1. I'm not sure what are the criticisms of any of these commentaries, but they all deal with the Greek text. Neither Mounce's Graded Reader nor Deckert's Koine Reader contain any passages from Galatians.

Other commentaries are
Fung, Ronald Y. K. The Epistle to the Galatians. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988 (ISBN: 987-0802825094. $38.00).

Martyn, J. Louis. Galatians. Yale Anchor Bible. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997 (ISBN: 978-0300139853. $50.00).

Schreiner, Thomas R. Galatians. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010 (ISBN: 978-0310243724. $34.99).

Perhaps someone can chime in about which commentary they feel is best suited for the Greek beginning-intermediate student for Galatians. On the other hand, there is a Baylor Handbook on the Greek Text for Ephesians. http://www.baylorpress.com/Book/19/Ephesians.html. None yet for Galatians.
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Re: Best way into Paul?

Postby richclarkson » March 12th, 2013, 1:30 pm

Thanks guys,
I started working through Galatians with another student today and am enjoying the challenge!
Rich
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