Recommendations for Studying Greek
by Jack Cottrell (Notes) on Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 10:57am
A RECENT REQUEST: I could use some help regarding resources for studying Greek. I have noticed that some texts reflect some rather liberal views of the Word of God. Someone recommended Walter Bauer’s “A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature,” University of Chicago Press, 1979. Is this one OK? Can you recommend a Greek NT, and any other basic resources that might be essential?
MY REPLY: I am not an expert on Greek, so I passed this request along to someone I trust who teaches Greek here at CCU, namely, Scott Lloyd, who is also one of our knowledgeable librarians. He said I could post his answer on FaceBook, thus:
SCOTT LLOYD SAYS: Dr. Cottrell asked me to make some recommendations for NT Greek resources. First of all, the first year Greek grammar that I use here at CCU is called “Learn to Read New Testament Greek,” by David Alan Black. It is a helpful, concise introduction to the basic grammatical knowledge and vocabulary that a student needs in order to start reading the Greek NT. Another helpful book, but much less concise, is “The Basics of Biblical Greek,” by William Mounce. For second-year (advanced) students, there is a helpful companion book to Mounce’s book called “Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics,” by Daniel Wallace. Wallace’s book is designed to broaden the student’s knowledge of Greek syntax.
Every serious student of Greek needs a lexicon, and the one mentioned above is definitive for studying NT Greek. It is now available in a new (3rd) edition (2000). Like any reference work, it should be used critically and not in isolation from other resources. Nevertheless, it is a valuable companion for helping the student understand the meaning of the words used in the NT.
The Greek NT I recommend for students is “The UBS Greek New Testament: A Reader’s Edition.” It is based on the 4th edition of the UBS Greek New Testament, which in turn uses the Nestle-Aland eclectic text. The nice feature of this Reader’s Edition is that it has a running dictionary at the bottom of each page, which defines every word used less than 30 times in the NT. This facilitates reading since the student does not need to consult a separate dictionary as frequently.
If you find yourself needing to refresh your knowledge of English Grammar while studying Greek grammar, there is a helpful book by Gary Long called “Grammatical Concepts 101: Learning Greek Grammatical Concepts through English Grammar.” This can serve as a useful companion to either of the first-year texts mentioned above.
Those adept with information technology may wish to consider the purchase of a good computer program like BibleWorks or Logos. A good original-languages Bible study software program will provide the Greek NT itself, plus many helpful supplementary tools. The books mentioned above can be purchased in electronic form and added as modules to the basic software.
One more thing: if you really want to learn Greek for yourself, you don’t want to become too reliant upon a bunch of reference tools at the beginning of your journey. It is tempting to let those tools do your thinking for you rather than trying to figure it out for yourself. A Greek NT, a good first-year grammar or two, a lexicon, and a good teacher, and you’re ready to begin your journey.